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Gutsiest Canadian Contest

November is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, when we celebrate those gutsy members of the IBD community who are making a difference in the lives of others. It gets more difficult each year to choose who stands out among the tens of thousands of courageous Canadians living with IBD and channeling their energies to help others.

CCFC is indeed fortunate that so many Canadians are working to improve the lives of people with IBD, and we’re delighted to introduce you to this year’s Gutsiest Canadians. These six overall winners represent each of our six CCFC regions (Newfoundland is now part of our Atlantic Region).

Overall Gutsiest Canadian – Lori Ann Frey of Watrous, Saskatchewan

Lori Ann has had ulcerative colitis for many years, and has maintained good health after a total colectomy – including giving birth to her third child. Her husband Murray has Crohn’s disease, so she knows more than most about both diseases and how hard life can be for those living with them. Despite both her and her Murray living with IBD, together they live incredibly full lives: running the family farm near Watrous, Saskatchewan, raising their three children and contributing to their community.

In addition to her commitment to her family, her dedication to raising funds for IBD research is without parallel. She has been a Top Pledge Earner (TPE) for almost all of the 16 annual Saskatoon Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-Thon events. She has instilled this value in her children, as she has supported them in creating their own HNW legacy as The Bikini Boys. As a family, the Freys have been Saskatoon’s top pledge raising team for at least the past four years, raising more than $40,000 while raising awareness through their outlandish team outfits. They have been the honorary chairs for the Saskatoon HNW, have spoken at several events and reporters seem to love interviewing them! Lori Ann has been the driving force behind these incredible accomplishments and continually redefines the term “Gutsy!”

Ashtyn Lively – Nanaimo, British Columbia

AshtynLively Twelve-year-old Ashtyn Lively was diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of eight, and since that time she has endured countless painful medical procedures and hospital stays. She was home-schooled because she was too ill to attend public school. The pain was unbearable at times with high fevers, lethargy and an inability to eat.
Ashtyn’s journey to becoming one of Canada’s gutsiest citizens began when she attended a kid’s craft fair just after being released from the hospital for a bowel blockage. Even though she had not eaten in almost two weeks, she raised $60 for IBD research by selling cookies and handing out information on IBD. She ended up in the hospital the next morning, where nine centimeters of her small intestine was removed.
When she had recovered enough, Ashtyn decided to go door to door in her community with a pamphlet on IBD, collecting donations for CCFC. She raised almost $2,000 by herself! She also went to businesses in the Comox Valley for auction donations, sold homemade bookmarks and did nails at the event, raising another $5,000. An inspiration to friends and family, she never feels sorry for herself, maintains a strong positive attitude and is determined to help find a cure by raising money for CCFC while educating people about her disease.

Greg Ronne – Lethbridge, Alberta

Greg has been living with Crohn’s disease for all his adult life. He will be 42 in October this year. He has had four resection surgeries over the years and too many flare-ups to count. It may seem this would be all-consuming, but Greg still finds the will, determination, and courage to enjoy life in the fullest way possible. He continues to work and to enjoy his summers at Flathead Lake with his family and friends either sailing, visiting, or just appreciating the beauty of the area. He supports his nephews at sporting events, spends time cruising in his 1978 Mustang and he is always willing to help his family and friends whenever needed.

Doing what he can to help find a cure for Crohn's and colitis is one of Greg's passions. He is actively involved in CCFC’s Lethbridge Chapter. He has been Top Pledge Earner eight times for the Lethbridge Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a -Thon. He has also spent many hours volunteering at M&M Meat Shops Charity BBQ Days over the years. Greg is appreciated and admired by all who know him and truly is the definition of gutsy.

Brooke Cramer – London, Ontario

Brooke is eight years old and has recently completed the last of three surgeries to cure her of ulcerative colitis, which she has had since she was five years old. The first year she was on a regiment of medications - 24 pills per day - and physicians were still unable to bring her condition under control. The next option was biologics, which required six to eight hours at the local hospital every couple of weeks. Throughout, she has met her condition head-on, with a true fighting spirit. Even an ostomy did not slow her down, as she continued with her exemplary academic performance, piano, swimming, Brownies and gymnastics classes.

Brooke discusses her condition openly with friends and family, making every effort to help everyone understand what exactly is happening to her. In 2010, Brooke’s first Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-Thon, she had close to 40 friends and family support her and she was a Top Pledge Earner in her first year! In 2011 Brooke became the event’s Honorary Chairperson and participated in local CCFC events, such as Guts on Ice, M&M Meat Shops Charity BBQ Day and of course the annual Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-Thon, where she has raised close to $8,000. The most recent leg of her journey involved a total of seven weeks of hospital time (two surgeries) over the summer of 2011, but she has never lost that winning attitude and looks forward to continuing the fight to find a cure for Crohn’s and colitis.

Isabelle Martineau – Sherbrooke, Quebec

Diagnosed with Crohn’s at an early age, Isabelle hasn’t had an easy ride with Crohn’s disease.  After many surgeries and complications, at only 32 years of age she was told she must use a feeding tube for the rest of her life. She cannot eat any food.  Yet despite losing what virtually everyone else takes for granted, she continues to bake amazing party cakes for her friends!
Her difficult battle with Crohn’s disease led Isabelle to CCFC in 2006. At her first Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-Thon, she and her husband and their two-year-old daughter Katherine kept a low profile. They hid in the background quietly observing how the other participants interacted with one another.   
In 2007, she shyly came forward to a CCFC staff member with a copy of a CD entitled; “Ma princesse:”  a song she had written and recorded for Katherine during a particularly bad flare-up.  Soon after, she signed up as a CCFC volunteer with the Estrie Chapter.
Today Isabelle is an active volunteer celebrating her fifth year with the Estrie region, where she is a very determined fundraiser, spokesperson and truly a great friend to all.

Heather Fegan – Halifax, Nova Scotia

Heather was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 14 years of age. Since that time she has worked tirelessly with others and most importantly with CCFC in conducting radio and TV interviews, sitting on panels organized by CCFC and speaking on behalf of young people with Crohn’s. She has been a member and Chair of the Halifax CCFC annual fundraising Gala; has coordinated and worked at M&M Meat Shops Charity BBQ Day and has promoted the National Family Dinner Night. She has been a poster girl for young people with Crohn’s.

Heather’s ongoing efforts to draw awareness to Crohn’s and colitis are encouraging and inspiring to people of any age, but she has especially helped teens and young adults feel more comfortable talking about the disease. 

Linette Moores - Newfoundland

Linette was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 16, and has been reasonably healthy since having surgery that same year. However in the last 15 years, her brother, mother and several cousins on both sides of the family have also been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Linette met this family challenge head-on, pouring her energy into volunteer work directed at finding the cures for Crohn’s and colitis. An active CCFC volunteer since 2000, she has held several positions within the Eastern Avalon Chapter, including: President, Volunteer Development Coordinator, Heel ‘n’ Wheel Coordinator, Let’s Do Brunch Coordinator, Newsletter Editor and has helped organize the Capitol Drugs PharmaChoice CCFC Charity Golf Tournament every year. Today, Linette is the provincial representative on the National Board of Directors.
There is no idea too big or too small for Linette to pursue. From fundraising to volunteer engagement to awareness, she leaves no stone unturned in her efforts to promote CCFC and the need for a cure for IBD.