Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis hits Vancouver

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      The onset of warm weather brings a wealth of recreational opportunities for Vancouverites. It also ushers in what appears to be an almost never-ending series of charity-fundraising walks.

      Every weekend features another walk, it seems, and they are all for great causes, of course. But it is easy to get a bit jaded by their ubiquity. And, realistically, most people can’t afford to donate to all of them.

      So, how to get the most bang for your charity bucks?

      Mavreen David doesn’t want to take anything away from the good work done by the thousands of walkers and volunteers raising money for research into cures for such widespread killers as heart disease.

      What she would like, though, is for people to keep things in perspective when donating a few dollars to medical charities, maybe mix things up a bit: keep a few bucks in reserve for the lesser-known illnesses after you donate to the biggies that affect so many lives.

      David is a coordinator for the Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis here in Vancouver, the biggest annual fundraiser for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada. The walks (there are six in B.C.—the others in Nanaimo, Victoria, Abbotsford, Surrey, and Kamloops—and about 60 nationwide) all take place this Sunday (June 9).

      “What $1 million does in our line of research is like $100 million for research for other diseases,” she notes. The Gutsy Walk’s modest fundraising goal—only $125,000 for the Vancouver walk (which takes place at the Dhillon track in UBC’s Thunderbird Park)—is indicative of the kind of support traditionally sent their way. Compared to the tens of millions raised in the Lower Mainland alone for the high-profile causes, one might wonder if it is even worth the effort.

      David is ready for that line. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the umbrella term used to describe the range of incurable illnesses that includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, hits one in 150 people in this country. About 233,000 Canadians, 6,000 of them children, regularly face excruciating pain, internal bleeding, ulcers, tube feedings, exhaustion, and depression.


      “I will see a cure in my lifetime,” David says firmly. “I’m sure of it. And people’s dollars will be a part of that. We are making progress.”

      David points out that two or three of the best drugs and treatments for IBD (an autoimmune disease not to be confused with diet-managed conditions like irritable-bowel syndrome) were developed in Canada, “specifically Western Canada”, she adds.

      “We’ve made huge strides in the last decade,” she says. “The treatments that have been developed in the past 10 years have given people quality of life, and that’s just two or three drugs.” She notes that such gains mean, for example, that people with IBD can keep jobs and return to school, invaluable improvements in day-to-day life.

      “We’re getting there,” she states definitively.

      For information on how to donate or raise funds, please go to the Gutsy Walk website.