The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s 2014 Ocean City Guts and Glory race marks my 6th time participating in this 5k. In 2008 it was my first ever 5k in support of my mother who is afflicted with Crohn’s disease. My self-made shirt claimed I was running for her guts and my glory. I certainly was in all my glory: Ben flew in from Chicago for the weekend, I knew my sister was getting engaged in two weeks, I raised money and awareness for my Mom’s disease, and I clocked a time to be proud of. So much has changed since that first 5k in 2008. Ben moved to PA in 2009, Heather and Ryan married in 2009, Ben and I married in 2011, I raced many more 5ks, as well as 10 milers, and 2 half marathons. However, back in 2008 we didn’t know the unfortunate future of how many more of us would be affected by autoimmune diseases. This year we will be running to raise awareness and funds for research for not only my mom, but now my sister and my mother-in-law too.

I have witnessed the stress these diseases have on the body. On top of the symptoms of each disease, the time it takes for infusions, the cost and side effects of medications, and for my sister, the daily struggle of eating gluten free, dairy free, and trying to pin point every gut-triggering food can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. I have experienced some of these things first-hand being diagnosed with Lupus less than a month after I ran that first 5k.

Usually every year I sign up for this race, I spend the rest of the day on the beach analyzing my run time and comparing it to my PR (2008. OC Guts and Glory 5k. Yep, my first official timed 5k is my PR. 28:52 – don’t judge me) instead of thinking about how much money and awareness I have raised for a good cause. In fact, the years after 2008, when I would register I would only make a personal donation and stopped fundraising all together. Instead, I put all my fundraising efforts towards the Lupus Loop later in the year.

In the midst of all the ice bucket challenges for ALS, I say let’s start sharing the wealth. We all have loved ones that are affected by one disease or another and we want to support them, find cures for them, and raise awareness for them. If your contribution for awareness is throwing a bucket of ice water over your head, go for it, but don’t’ worry, I won’t be nominating you to do it. This year, I want to spread my efforts, even if it means we don’t top last year’s Lupus Loop’s fundraising goal.

If you would like to donate ANY amount of money to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, please visit my fundraising page (link below) and sponsor me! Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you donate, thank you so much more!

Michelle’s CCFA fundraising page