So Excited!

Where has the time gone?  I did NOT intend to leave such a gap between my posts… but life has this nifty little habit of getting in the way of so many things.  And now, suddenly, it’s just days away from Christmas and so much has happened.

I have lots of ideas I will spit out over the next few weeks, but FIRST, some amazingly exciting news – though for anyone that follows my @GutcheckYYC instagram account, it’s old news.   On January 28th, I am hosting what will hopefully be the first instance of an annual event – the Gut Check Ride to raise funds for Crohn’s & Colitis Canada and their “Make it Stop.  For Life” campaign.  This little event includes a charity Spin & Yin (combo Spin & Yoga) class and a fun little after party, and I could not be more pumped to share the details with you.  The class is being held at my favorite spot, Hot Shop  Spin & Yoga – at their Northwest/University location in Calgary.  The amazing folks there have very generously donated the studio and instructor time, so all proceeds raised for the event go towards my cause.  I do have a few spots left, for anyone in YYC who wants to participate, there is a minimum $30 donation required – comment below or use the contact page to email me.  If you cannot attend, but want to contribute, you can make a donation directly to the CCC through my donation page to attend in spirit as an “honorary rider”.  Spin is something I have really gotten into this year, and I can assure anyone who is on the fence that this is will be a completely positive and fun environment that only encourages everyone to do the best they can.  And… if it’s the Yoga that has you hesitating, let me tell you… this girl is completely green as well.  I have attended a total of one single yoga class in my entire life, and am about as flexible as the wooden stir stick in my coffee right now.  For real, I would be lying if I told you I was not at all intimidated, so if I can do it, so can you!   Afterwards, I encourage all participants and any honorary riders who want to partake to join us at Brewsters in Crowfoot for a pint and some food.

To make the Gut Check event even more successful, I have been seeking the support of local YYC businesses for donations of prizes for contests and raffles during my event – the name of the game is fundraising here folks.  Calgary is full of some amazing businesses, and in today’s economy, supporting local has never been more important, so I began reaching out to businesses that I love.  We have some exciting prizes lined up, including a few freshly filled Growlers of locally brewed Kombucha from True Buch (a personal fav of mine… but I will get into Kombucha in another post), and a Gift Certificate from the incredible Cru Juice, a Calgary based cold pressed juice company that has saved me in times of flare ups.  We have two beautiful, hand crafted necklaces from the wonderful Sophie of Tribes Society Jewellery & Metalwork, also based in Calgary and a Gift Certificate from White Rose Vegetarian Kitchen, located in my own community of Bowness, this place is wonderful for veggie and meat eaters, with an appreciation for great food, alike!  We also will have the Promo Team from Popeye’s Supplements on hand hooking up participants with some samples and some supplement advice.  All around, this is shaping up to be a great event, I cannot wait to post pictures and share with you how much money was raised!

Why am I doing this?  Well, aside from the obvious self-preservation motivation of you know… wanting to find a cure for this little disease of mine, I find myself overwhelmed by this urge lately to raise awareness for the CCC and all they do, as well as these diseases that fall under the IBD catagory.  As you have already seen a bit, through my previous posts, my experiences leading up to diagnosis were not exactly pleasant… and the scary thing is, I had (and still do honestly) it relatively EASY compared to a lot of other people.

The fact of the matter is, Crohn’s and Colitis are not simple, they are not easily explained with a short list of symptoms.  There is no list of foods that all of us can avoid that will promise a stay from symptoms.  There is no list of guaranteed symptoms I can tell people to watch out for.  Even the name Irritable Bowel Disease can be slightly misleading, in my opinion, because our symptoms and experiences are not limited specifically to tummy troubles.  My experience is not the same as others, and if you have IBD, or know someone who does, some of my points may ring true, and others may have you going “oh, I didn’t get that”.  Every single day I hear something from someone else, through social media or my own daily interactions, that makes me go “hmm… I didn’t know that”.  It is only through the awareness, programs and communities that Crohn’s & Colitis Canada exposed me to that I began to find my own place and voice in this new world.  Attending the GUTS 2016 conference in Calgary re-inspired me to get involved, and I hope maybe I can inspire someone else.  You don’t have to have IBD, or even know someone that does, to get involved either.  Three Albertans will be diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis TODAY… and the instance of children being diagnosed is sharply on the rise as well.  The CCC is the only National, volunteer based charity focused on finding cures for Crohn’s and Colitis, but it doesn’t stop there – they are also dedicating to improving the lives of those of us affected.  There are programs like the recently launched in Calgary, GoHere, that has collected over 166 businesses to provide washroom access (could have used this one in Mexico, but I digress…), and Camp Got2Go, a summer camp in Bragg Creek for kids with IBD.  There is the PACE Network – elevating patient outcomes in Canada with IBD Centres of Excellence at the U of A and U of C, which are taking the lead in advancing treatments to reduce steroid overuse (if you have read previous posts you know how I feel about steroids).  There is also the Gutsy Peer Support Program, a confidential online portal with volunteer mentors who provide psycho-social & emotional support to 250 mentees.

Oh, and did I mention RESEARCH?  The CCC has invested over $100 MILLION since they were founded in 1974.  This year alone, they are investing $6.5 million to research in Canada, fuelling 7 research grants at 2 Alberta Universities.  I strongly believe that while we may not have a full on cure in my lifetime, we are well on our way to something very real.  Every day, new and promising ideas come forward about treatment options and that is thanks largely to the CCC and people like you and me who want to make a difference.

I will step off my soapbox now, I know I just spewed a lot of facts and stuff at you.  Either way, I hope to see some of you on the bike on January 28th, it is going to be a GREAT time.

Are you doing something in your area to raise awareness you want to talk about?  Comment below and let me know what you are doing, I love hearing about all the different ideas and efforts around the country & world.

And of course, Merry Christmas to you and yours.  I hope you have some time planned to sit around with family and friends.