A 9-year-old Battlement Mesa resident inspired people in her community to participate in the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s (CCFA) annual Colorado River Valley Take Steps Walk at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs held Saturday.
Melissa Cook is one of 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These incurable diseases are best detected and treated early, yet long delays in diagnosis and effective treatment are common because people, including primary care physicians, are often unfamiliar with the symptoms.
Melissa’s journey with Crohn’s Disease has been difficult. At 7 years old, she began to have painful stomachaches that wouldn’t go away with the use of regular over-the-counter medicines. The family went to her pediatrician hoping for answers. A CT scan yielded no clues for her continuing weight loss and exhaustion.
Melissa was eventually admitted to Children’s Hospital in Denver, where a colonoscopy revealed severe Crohn’s Disease. She was put on oral medications, steroids, an acid reducer and an immunosuppressant to get her disease under control. After many medication adjustments and ups and downs, Melissa began a new medication in July 2013. After a couple of months, her family got the energetic and happy Melissa back.
CCFA has set a $25,000 goal for this year’s event, and hoped that as many as 300 participants would take part. Walkers raised research money for these diseases, including a free customizable web page and banners for social networking sites such as Facebook.
The Take Steps Walk is a celebration of the walkers’ hard work and dedication to help raise funds for the foundation while providing a fun, family- and pet-friendly environment.