The Gutsy Walk was held in Vanderhoof on June 2 to raise funds for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
During last year’s event, the group raised $20,000 which is the most money per capita that was raised at a Gutsy Walk anywhere across B.C., said Suzanne Campbell, one of the organizer’s of the event.
Campbell said that Canada has the highest rates of Crohn’s and Colitis in the world and the numbers keep increasing. The sad reality she said is that the prevalence of the disease in kids has has more than doubled in the past 10 years.
“It can be a very debilitating chronic disease that impacts people their whole life,” she said.
For this year’s Vanderhoof Gutsy Walk, the honorary chair was Ryleigh Johns-Crampain who died at the age of 15 after suffering from Crohn’s disease for many years. Her mom, Jo Johns spoke about her journey and struggles during the time.
“People don’t understand how much these diseases affect families. Especially with children. With Crohns, it was so hard for my youngest. My older daughter had cancer and I would say that was an easier experience and I am not saying that people struggling with cancer are not struggling. Its really hard. But there is a protocol and there is a lot of support but for illnesses like this, there are not. Especially up here. Trying to get mental health care or see a psychiatrist, you can’t do any of that until you are down in Vancouver,” Jo Johns said.
The Gutsy Walk is a nation wide event to raise funds for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and to increase awareness about these inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is a health charity funder of Crohn’s and Colitis research in the world and in 2017-2018 they supported 48 research projects, Campbell said.
“Vanderhoof is very special because it is one of the 60 sites across the country to host a walk and definitely one of the smallest and most remote. We were very successful fundraising in our first Gutsy Walk last year, raising over $20,000. We have a very supportive and special community and I think that is highlighted by how many people come together to support each other and raise funds for important causes like this one,”Campbell said.