By Sulz, Dave on September 25, 2020.
Wetaskiwin residents walk across province
The 25th annual Gutsy Walk in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada had a new look this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers turned the annual fundraiser into a virtual event, encouraging participants across the country to walk “anywhere, anyhow” in support of the 270,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Two Albertans who know firsthand the impact of the diseases opted to walk across the province to raise awareness and donations for research.
Gary Mason has lived with Crohn’s disease for 27 years while Tracey Paluck has endured ulcerative colitis for 32 years. The Wetaskiwin residents set out on Aug. 26 from Walsh at the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and walked along Highway 3 to the Alberta-B.C. border near Coleman – 376 kilometres – arriving Sept. 7, two days earlier than they had expected. Their main stops along the way were Medicine Hat, Taber, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek and Coleman.
Their aim in undertaking the challenging journey was to inspire others living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or other chronic illnesses to continue working toward reaching their goals.
“Gary and I walked across our beautiful province of Alberta to show even though we are sick, under abnormal stress, battling undiagnosed autoimmune issues, or maybe we just feel as though life is ‘too much’ at times, we are still strong,” said Paluck. “We can still do amazing things and contribute to the world in incredibly positive ways. We can do whatever we put our minds to. You can do it.”
Crohn’s and colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, are chronic autoimmune diseases that cause the body to attack itself, leading to inflammation of all or part of the gastrointestinal tract, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, and the frequent and urgent bowel movements, in some cases more than 20 times a day.
Gutsy Walk, the annual volunteer-driven event, has raised more than $45 million since 1996.
Funds raised support research projects focused on identifying new forms of treatment, symptom management, evolving patient care, and discovering the causes with the ultimate goal of creating a future free of these diseases.
For more information about Gutsy Walk or to make a donation, visit gutsywalk.ca.