Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission are among the communities across Canada taking part in the 28th annual Gutsy Walk on Sunday, June 4.
The walk raises awareness and funds for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The Fraser Valley East event takes place at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford.
Registration and check-in is at 9 a.m., followed by a warmup at 10 a.m. and the walk at 10:30 a.m. Participants will walk two laps around the lake.
The family-friendly event supports research into a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. which impact 300,000 Canadians and their families — a number expected to grow to 400,000 by the end of the decade.
The first Gutsy Walk was held in 1996. Since then, it has grown to become the largest single fundraiser for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, having raised more than $50 million for support programs and innovative research.
The aim is to add $3 million to that total with this year’s Gutsy Walk. More than 3,500 Canadians participated in last year’s event.
“Gutsy Walk is a celebration of people coming together who have overcome a lot of obstacles and challenges in their lives,” says Kyle Brown, who with his son Nathaniel is one of the honorary national co-chairs of the 2023 Gutsy Walk.
“Because it is the largest fundraiser for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, it is nice to know the outcomes of the event will have a major impact on investments in research, advocacy and awareness.”
Kyle was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 15, and has been actively participating in Gutsy Walk since 2012.
Nathaniel first got involved to support his father with a lemonade and cookie stand, but when the COVID pandemic hit, he took to doing laps around the cul-de-sac where they live: walking, running, riding a bike, or dribbling a basketball.
Now, he and his two younger siblings do both their local effort in the cul-de-sac and participate in Gutsy Walk, which has become a whole family affair with the team name “Farter Knows Best” — a play on the impact Crohn’s disease has on the body.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which have no known cures, cause the body to attack itself, inflaming the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and disrupting the body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.
These are lifelong diseases and people can experience acute periods of active symptoms (active disease or flare), and other times their symptoms are absent (remission).
The diseases are often referred to as invisible as many people living with Crohn’s or colitis look “normal” on the outside while facing excruciating pain and exhaustion.
Visit gutsywalk.ca for more information or to register for the walk as an individual or team.