My first Take Steps
Published: January 7, 2020
After dealing with months of symptoms, I was finally diagnosed in with Crohn’s disease in February of 2017. Once I was diagnosed, I started meeting other IBD patients and getting involved with the IBD community but had never been to a Take Steps walk until I joined the Foundation as the Take Steps Marketing Manager. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Fort Worth Take Steps walk, and as a patient, it was an amazing experience to see everyone come together for the cause of finding cures for IBD.
For me, the most touching and inspiring part of Take Steps was to see the number of patients who are fighting these diseases, the amazing caregivers who support them, and the amount of people who come together to raise funds to help find a cure. Before the walk, signs with ranges of years were passed out, starting with “The first 12 months,” “1-5 years,” and so on up to “21+ years.” Patients were encouraged to stand by the sign that represented their number of years diagnosed. I held back tears as I saw the number of people who gathered around the different signs. I’ve been diagnosed for almost four years, and there are still plenty of days I feel alone and like I’m the only one fighting, but this moment changed that. I felt inspired and connected to the IBD community.
A fun aspect of Take Steps was seeing all the amazing team tee-shirts and team names. People really get creative with their names and shirt designs. It was so inspiring to see large groups rallying around a loved one and showing their support. Teams were getting to know each other, and patients and their families were connecting with others in the IBD community.
After the walk, the Top Teams received their awards. At Forth Worth Take Steps, the Top Team captains were mostly teenagers. I was already in my 20's when I was diagnosed, but if I was diagnosed in high school, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to not only talk openly about my disease, but to rally my friends together to help make a change. Seeing the younger generation already so involved, gives me hope that we will find a cure for IBD.
Over the past decade, Take Steps has brought together more than 410,000 people and raised over $100 million to help further the Foundation's mission. The money Take Steps participants raise goes toward breakthrough research, public and professional education, and patient support services in communities across the nation.
There's 3.1 million reasons to Take Steps - what's yours? Registration for 2020 Take Steps walks is now open! Click here to find a walk near you.
Megan Koehler is the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's National Marketing Manager for Take Steps and a Crohn's disease patient.