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Cape student ‘honored hero’ for upcoming Take Steps Walk

By Staff | Oct 8, 2011

A Cape Coral eighth grade student has been named the local honored hero for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Fort Myers Take Steps Walk, which will be held in November.

“I am so proud to be the local honored hero, especially this year, as they honor Dr. (Christian) Ross,” John Dickman said in a prepared statement. “Dr. Ross always wanted me to get well enough to return to school and I know he would be proud to see me back at school and being around all my friends. I want to raise as much money as I can, so hopefully one day no one has to miss out on just being a kid.”

Kelly Dickman said her son, John, was diagnosed with Crohn’s in October of 2006 when he was 8 and in third grade.

In September 2006, John lost 10 pounds, became very pale and did not want to do anything. Kelly said she also noticed that whenever it was time for him to eat he automatically went to the bathroom.

The diagnosis was not made until Kelly took her son to the Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition of Florida office to see Dr. Ross. She said Ross put his hand on John’s back and told her that he had Crohn’s.

Unfortunately Ross passed away last year.

Kelly said Ross was a fantastic doctor who would take time out of anything he was doing, including vacation, if she needed to talk to him.

“It is very reassuring and comforting to know that I could pick up the phone at any time,” she said.

John had surgery to remove 12 inches from his small intestine to help his discomfort. Kelly said the opening of a small intestine is supposed to be 2-3 centimeters, but John’s was 4 millimeters in diameter.

She said although no one wants to go through surgery, they did not want to wait for any destruction to take place.

“He is doing really great since then,” she said about her son, post surgery. “Surgery does not cure Crohn’s, it helps to keep it in remission.”

John takes two different medications to prevent any flare-ups from occurring, along with watching what he eats. Kelly said since he cannot eat anything spicy; he eats mostly mild food.

After he was taken out of school as a fifth grade student to be home-schooled for three years, he returned back to school as an eighth grade student at Challenger Middle School in August.

Kelly said laughing that John told her that he needed to fire her as his home-school teacher and return to school. Since returning he has earned all As and one B.

The easy-going 13-year-old loves to play the drums and basketball, his mother said, and seems to get along with everyone well.

The Fort Myers Take Steps Walk will be held on Nov. 6 at Lakes Park. Registration begins at 3 p.m. and the walk with start at 4 p.m.

Individuals can create a team or join an existing team by visiting www.cctakesteps.org/FortMyers. Once a team is formed its members can begin raising money for the cause.

The Dickman family – Kelly, John, Ellen and John – hope to raise more than $1,500 through their team, John’s Crohn’s Busters. As of Thursday the team has raised $425.

Ellen, John’s sister who also attends Challenger Middle School, is helping in raising awareness and money by selling bracelets at the school.

The second annual walk means a great deal to the Dickman family because it brings awareness to Crohn’s and colitis disease.

“It means that I am very happy that we are opening eyes and making people aware of Crohn’s and colitis,” Kelly said.

Crohn’s is a chronic disorder that can cause inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract.

She said Crohn’s can put an individual in an embarrassing situation, but it does not have to be that way.

“It is still a disease that kids and adults have to live with,” she said.

Although the disease takes away some pleasures in life like eating certain foods or deciding what her son is going to do for the day, Kelly said she tells him that he has Crohn’s and that Crohn’s does not have him.

Kelly said they really need to find a cure and gather enough money for research for Crohn’s and colitis. She said she hopes to form a local support group with the money raised at the walk.