COLUMBIA - The Take Steps walk to raise money to find a cure for Crohn's disease and colitis kicked off in Stephens Lake Park Sunday afternoon and raised over $20,000.
Around one in every 200 people is affected by digestive diseases. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. It inflames the lining of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. Colitis is similar to Crohn's but occurs only through continuous stretches of the colon. There is no known cure for either condition, but those going through the Take Steps walk hope to change that.
"We're finding that more and more kids are being diagnosed, younger and younger," said Amy Willett, the manager of the walk. "What we're here to do is raise money and raise awareness for these diseases."
Willett started the walk last year for her sister-in-law, who has Crohn's disease. The walk featured several events for kids, including a balloon artist, a face painter, and a DJ for music, and then participants walked around the park after the festivities. Around 200 people came out for the walk.
Willett said the main thing to remember is that anyone can be affected by the disease.
"Your next door neighbor or your best friend could be suffering from it. The symptoms that come along with it aren't the prettiest and aren't the most gentle subject to talk about so someone very close to you could be suffering from Crohn's disease but you may not even know," said Willett. "And I think it's important for them to reach out to that person and let them know that they have someone to talk to if they're going through hard times with the disease."