Portland, Take Steps to Find a Cure!
Hello from your Maine Take Steps Walk Manager, Jessica Gale
Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is CCFA’s largest fundraising event having touched over 240,000 people and raised nearly $60M to help further the Foundation’s mission.
Our Take Steps walks offer a wonderful day for family, friends and the community to celebrate all of the efforts that have been put forth in raising funds towards our mission. Our walk events are filled with live music, food, kids’ entertainment, educational materials, and, of course, wonderful exposure for our corporate partners. In 2014, more than 70,000 people joined us nationwide, helping us raise $11M.
82 cents of every dollar raised goes towards breakthrough research, public and professional education, and patient support services in communities across the nation.
Register today. Join thousands of others in the fight against digestive diseases.
RSVP Here for the 2015 KICK OFF PARTY!
Meet our 2015 Honoree
My name is Michael Flaherty. I'm 29 years old, I live in Portland, Maine and I have Crohn’s Disease. I've had this digestive disorder for over 10 years. I got good grades, had great friends and was recognized as a young basketball and golfing prospect in Maine This is the story of how it reduced my life to dust. I went to medical doctors but it took over a year to get my first diagnosis. Then another year went by with constant symptoms like throwing up unexpectedly, blood in my bowel movements, urgency, frequency, abdominal pain, weight loss, chronic fatigue, no energy, hopelessness, fissures and many trips to the hospital emergency room in the middle of the night. I was on many different medications including a lot of pain medication. In June, 2005 I had my first surgery. At the time of the surgery, I stood 6 foot tall and weighed only 93 pounds. I was told if I did not go into immediate surgery then I was going to die. The surgeons went in and pulled out a grapefruit sized mass of scar tissue embedded in my gut. I was told weeks after the operation, I almost did not survive the surgery. They concluded that my appendix had ruptured several weeks before and my body was trying to protect me by building up this mass of scar tissue around the obliterated appendix. The doctor’s said the mass of scar tissue saved my life. I asked them how it was possible for me to not feel the pain of a ruptured appendix, but they didn’t have a good answer. I know it was because of all the pain medication I was on at the time. After removing the mass of scar tissue, my large intestine was surgically separated from my small intestine and I was given an ostomy bag. This meant I no longer had bowel movements in the normal way but through a hole in my belly near my left hip and into a plastic bag. This bag was a constant reminder of the hell I had been through all those years. In August, 2010, my digestive disorder came back with a vengeance and without warning. Again, for over a year and a half I was in hell. Same symptoms as before; urgency, frequency, abdominal pain, blood in my bowel movements, weight loss, chronic fatigue, no energy and hopelessness. At one point I was taking 56 pills per day. 56 pills of strong pain medication, steroids and anti-inflammatory. Some of the strongest pain medications on the planet. Once again I was losing everything. I suffered greatly. This time around, as my digestive disorder returned and flared, some new and strange and very troubling symptoms occurred. I formed six sub-cutaneous fistulas. This means, that tunnels had formed from my small intestine in six separate places (six separate tunnels) until they caused six separate holes on the surface of my belly. This resulted in undigested food moving through these tunnels and into a large piece of gauze I would tape over each hole and have to change five or six times per day. I battled this condition for over a year and a half trying different medical treatments and different drugs. Along with the six fistulas, I had developed a massive infection. They had to move the location of my ostomy (the hole in my belly that eliminated my waste into a bag) to the other hip area, and drain out all the infection. When I came out of surgery, I was given too much sedative by one of the floor doctors and was raced to the ICU. (Intensive Care Unit) I spent two weeks in the hospital rehabilitating and was finally allowed to go home in mid-June 2011. The second surgery broke me. In every way a person can be broken. I had just seen too much, felt too much, been through too much. The drugs, drug withdrawals, pain, needles, tears, blood and the rage. Too much. I write to you today as a truly humbled man. But a man that will not lie down. Not while my heart still beats and I have strength left. Be brave. Reach out for help and fight back. Let’s win this war together. As one united front.
Michael Flaherty----Portland, Maine
Call Jessica Gale @ 207-649-9573 for more information!