Gutsy walk back on track

Participants take part in the 2018 Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis in Prince Albert on Sunday. A total of 42 walkers raised $6,194 for research, education and patient care programs. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Just two years ago, Prince Albert’s annual Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis was on the verge of extinction.

However, thanks to some committed walkers and volunteers, their 2018 event was beyond successful.

A total of 42 people came out to Sunday’s walk and raised $6,194 for research, education and patient care programs. That more than doubled their original target of $2,500, and well above last year’s total of roughly $1,600.

“It was a small walk, because the year before that it didn’t even happen,” said Christina Pico, one of the volunteer coordinators. “It was really a struggle to get the ball rolling again.”

Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem in this year. Pico found a few other volunteers suffering from Crohn’s and Colitis who helped spur support from around the community. By Friday night, they’d already smashed their fundraising goal, and with additional donations being accepted until July 4, the final total could go even higher.

“There was just such a big boost this year,” Pico said. “I just couldn’t even believe it.”

In the past, the biggest problem was finding people with Crohn’s or Colitis who were willing to talk about it. Pico said it’s never easy to find people willing to be so open about their medical history, so finding a few people willing to do so was surprising, but encouraging.

“I don’t have (Crohn’s or Colitis) myself,” Pico explained. “I’m just a volunteer. I just wanted to get involved in the community, so it was really hard to go out there and reach out to people because they don’t like to talk about it. Finding people who had it and were passionate about it, I’m sure they can reach out to all the others who don’t want to talk about it and say, ‘hey, there’s people like me out there. Let’s keep this going. Let’s keep this in Prince Albert.”

Crohn’s and colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They are autoimmune diseases that cause the body to attack itself, leading to abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, internal bleeding and unintended weight loss among other symptoms. It’s estimated that more than 250,000 Canadians live with one of the two diseases, and there is no known cure for either.