Heather Monych knows all about the importance of events Like the Gutsy Walk, but this is the first year she will be able to lend her legs to the cause.
Monych is the honorary chair of the 2017 Victoria Gutsy Walk, which gets underway at 10 a.m. Sunday from Gorge Park at 1070 Tillicum Road. The walk is held to raise funds and awareness for Crohn’s and colitis, with a goal to raise $34,900 this year in Victoria.
“Technically this would be my third year but the last two years I ended up missing both walks. Last year I was there but I didn’t do the walk because I was still sick, and the year before I was in hospital,” said Monych, an Oak Bay resident. “It’s a big step. It means I’m healthy enough to do it instead of just watching from the sidelines.”
It was four years ago when Monych first discovered there was a problem with her health, suffering from a loss of appetite, waking up tired and finding blood in her stool. A scope determined that she had ulcerative colitis, resulting in a surgery to have her colon removed.
“I had 12 surgeries in three years and spent a total of 364 days in hospital,” she said. “But four years later I’m doing a lot better.”
Monych said when she was first diagnosed she had never even heard of ulcerative colitis, and while she had heard of Crohn’s disease she didn’t understand what it was.
“I hope this helps let more people know what Crohn’s and colitis is, and those who are suffering know there is a community out there [to provide support],” said the 25-year-old, adding when she was diagnosed she didn’t know there were others like herself.
“I found out that there’s people my age and even younger. It hits everyone, there is no age barrier.”
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada aims to raise $3.6 million nationally through the Gutsy Walk to support research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness efforts to better the lives of children and adults affected by these chronic diseases.
“It’s a fundraiser to support research and programs, but it’s also a way to raise awareness and educate people about the disease. Every time we do one of these events people realize we do exist,” said Corinne MacDonald, community outreach volunteer for the Victoria walk.
Canada has some of the highest rates in the world for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, with one in 150 people living with the disease. And the rate of Crohn’s disease in Canadian children under 10 has doubled since 1995.
Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. June 4 with the opening ceremonies kicking off at 9:45. The Reynolds Secondary School Jazz Band will be part of the entertainment while the school’s drum line will lead the walk. There will also be a silent auction and 50/50 draw. Dogs are welcome on the walk.
Participants will be collecting pledges for the walk, but there will also be people accepting donations at the registration stations. People can also donate online at gutsy walk.ca and entering Victoria for the location.
For more information about Crohn’s and Colitis Canada go to www.crohnsandcolitis.ca.