Walk to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
By MEGHAN McCOY
The inaugural Take Steps Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis Disease in Southwest Florida will be held at Lakes Park on Sept. 26.
There are more than 100 walks scheduled, which are affiliated through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), to take place across the country to help raise money for research and patient service programs for Crohn’s and Colitis Disease. The nationwide Take Steps Walk, which has raised more than $13 million, began two years ago.
Dawn Neal said her son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease almost two years ago when he was 18. She said it took the doctors six months to diagnose her son because there was not enough information out there about Crohn’s disease.
“I didn’t know how devastating it was and started researching it on the internet,” she said, which led her to finding CCFA.
She said she called CCFA to see if they offered anything on this coast, so her family could get involved in the organization. Miami and Orlando were the closest places that CCFA offered the Take Steps Walk event.
Neal said she decided to ask her medical director, Dr. Geoffrey Negin of Florida Radiology Consultants, if there was something they could do to bring the walk to Fort Myers. After he agreed, Florida Radiology Consultants became the corporate sponsor of the inaugural Take Steps Walk in Fort Myers.
“In three months we set up this walk,” she said. “Usually it takes about a year to plan the walk.”
Neal said she could not believe the overwhelming support she received from the sponsors and community when they began planning the fund raiser.
As of Thursday, she said they had 17 teams signed up for the walk, or approximately 100 to 140 walkers.
Neal said the Estero Fire Department also will be at the Sunday event, so they can raise money to send a 12-year-old boy who was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s to a camp.
Those who have not registered yet may do so on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. Registration is free. The walk will begin between 4:45 and 5 p.m. Neal said everyone who signs in on Sunday will receive a ticket for a meal, which is also free.
There will a kid zone at the event, which will feature face painting.
“It is going to be a family event,” she said, adding that she encourages people to bring their kids, grandparents and neighbors.
The walk will consist of one lap around Lakes Park, which is a little more than a mile. Neal said those who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease cannot walk that far, so it is a good distance.
There will also be a booth set up during the walk, which will provide information about Crohn’s disease.
“We want to educate everyone so they understand how to deal with the processes,” Neal said about the disease that affects children, young adults and adults. “It is a very hard disease to live with.”
So far, $11,000 has been raised, which will remain in the area.
“The money that we raise will be for here,” Neal said.
The funds will go towards education seminars and support groups. She said she also hopes to raise money to send children in Lee and Collier County to camps that are dedicated solely to kids who have Crohn’s disease.
Neal said they are planning on holding the first educational conference in January.
An estimated 1.4 million Americans have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and 150,000 of those diagnosed are under 18 years old. The cause is unknown and the cure is yet to be discovered.
For more information about the Take Steps Walk contact Martha Lagarde at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 218-2929 or visit www.cctakesteps.org/fortmyers.