July 23rd, 2024

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Gutsy Walk returns in-person this weekend

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on June 1, 2022.

Submitted photo Gutsy Walk Lethbridge honorary chair Jill Tomalty, fiancé Liam Dunning and their dog Lacey during their 2021 Gutsy Walk at Henderson Lake. 

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

After taking place virtually for the last couple of years, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Gutsy Walk will take place in person once again at Henderson Lake Park on June 5.
Participants in Lethbridge and southern Alberta along with Canadians across the country, will be walking for the 27th annual Gutsy Walk to stop Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Lethbridge Gutsy Walk Honourary Chair Jill Tomalty, said she is excited to be able to do it in person with others around her once again, as for the last couple of years people did it on their own.
“It’s always a fun event for everybody to get together and see how many people are affected by this disease and how much support there is,” said Tomalty.
She said it is one of the biggest events that Crohn’s and Colitis puts on every year.
As Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s largest research fundraiser, Gutsy Walk has raised over $48 million (CAD) since it first began in 1996 for research that advances the understanding of Crohn’s and colitis, which helps improve quality of life for everyone facing these diseases.
Tomalty was diagnosed at 19 years old after her first year of university.
“My disease progressed fairly quickly, and I had to have a couple of surgeries. I had a total colectomy,” said Tomalty.
A colectomy is the removal of a portion or full removal of the colon.
She said it has been a long and hard journey but she is now at the point where she feels comfortable enough to talk about it.
“It can be very difficult because it is an invisible illness, you look like you are well in the outside but in the inside you are actually really sick. It’s hard for a young adult to get that across and see all your peers progressing and you are not at the same stage,” said Tomalty.
She said she had to do a lot of growing up in other ways and missed out on a few things.
“I finally have a handle on my disease for the most part and lived with it for five or six years now. I’m not going to say that it has gotten easier but I can talk it out without feeling shame or embarrassment,” said Tomalty.
She said she has become more comfortable because she became part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada community in Lethbridge.
“They have such a good support network, lots of people you can reach out to and talk to and I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through at the beginning of my disease which is feeling like you can’t talk about it or that you are going through it alone,” said Tomalty.
She said she wants people to know there is a lot of support available.
For more information on the Gutsy Walk visit https://gutsywalk.ca/about/Why-Walk.aspx 
To Register for the walk https://crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/ui/GutsyWalk2022/pledge/registration/start

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