“Isolation from friends and family, bleeding from places I should not, more bowel movements than anyone can keep track of, more colonoscopies than anyone should have in their life, unbearable pain, anemia, dehydration, hundreds of unsuccessful pricks and painful IVs, the list goes on…” – Maya Garfinkel, 16, of Great Neck, NY describes what the past two years of living with ulcerative colitis has been like.
At the age 14 Garfinkel was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the large intestine, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous.
Two years into her diagnosis, Garfinkel is inspiring and motivating the community to find cures by participating in the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Gold Coast Take Steps Walk as this year’s Shining Star. The 2019 walk takes place on Sunday, October 20th at 12PM at North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington, NY. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease are both painful, debilitating digestive diseases affecting more than 3.1 million American adults and children, including an estimated 80,000 patients under the age of 18.
Garfinkel attends Great Neck North High School and at a time when she should be hanging out with friends, studying and starting to think about college, she has been battling ulcerative colitis. Relentless to not let her diagnosis define her, Garfinkel focuses her energy into educating others and empowering the community to take action and make a difference.
“I like telling my story to others because I hope that it might help others feel like they are not alone,” said Garfinkel. “I’ve accepted that this is now a part of my life until there is a cure and I want to be a part of the solution in any way I can, which is why I accepted the honor of being a Gold Coast Take Steps Shining Star this year to support the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation!”
Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is the Foundation’s largest fundraising event that brings together patients and their families so they can connect with their local inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community, helping them understand that they’re never along in this fight. However, it’s more than just a walk, it’s where the IBD community comes together to inspire each other to fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Take Steps has brought together more than 300,000 people and has raised over $85 million dollars to help advance IBD research and patient support programs.