The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is once again holding its annual Take Steps Walk on May 7 at Bayfront Park (Tina Hills Pavilion) in Downtown Miami.
Some 400 volunteers and participants attend the walk every year to raise awareness, funds and support for the CCFA, a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a goal to educate, assist and research cures for Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, the two inflammatory bowel disorders that affect more than 1.6 million Americans.
Leading the walk this year as its Honored Local Hero is Jacquelyn Schatzman. Diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2007 at just 9 years old after more than a year of chronic pain and unexplained weight loss, she and her family have been involved with the CCFA ever since.
The Miami Killian High School senior heads up her own fundraising group, Jacquelyn’s Joggers, and is a committee member of the CCFA’s South Florida Chapter along with her mother and father, Lisa and Jeffrey Schatzman. She hopes to pursue a career in pediatric gastroenterology after she graduates.
“I feel like it will be a great way for me to learn more about myself, as well as help others with conditions and experiences similar to mine,” Jacquelyn said. “I struggled a lot because I was diagnosed at a young age and feeling like nobody else knew what I was going through was really tough for me. I hope to be able to help my patients and be like, ‘Look, I went through what you’re going through right now and it’s okay.’”
Founded in 1965, the CCFA is comprised of more than 50 thousand members across 40 nationwide chapters. The Take Steps Walk is the group’s largest fundraising event, reaching participants in more than 150 local communities. All money raised goes towards research for Crohn’s, colitis and services offered by the CCFA including educational programs, support groups and Camp Oasis, a summer camp for children.
“Living with Crohn’s or colitis can be extremely challenging, but it’s manageable and a strong support system can make all the difference,” Jacquelyn said. “We hope to see you at the walk!”
Participants can register online at online.CCFA.org/Miami2016 or on the day of the walk at 9:30 a.m. To support Jacquelyn’s Joggers, visit online.CCFA.org/goto/Jacquelyn. For any other information, visit CCFA.org and CCTakeSteps.org.