Matthew Arnoldy, 31
Scuba Diver, Environmental Advocate, Future Sustainable Urban Real Estate Developer
After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2006, Matthew knew his condition could potentially keep him from pursuing his passions. But Matthew didn't let Crohn's disease stop him from continuing his work as an environmental and social advocate. Armed with a cooler packed with medication, he has traveled the globe to continue his work with nonprofit organizations like Casa Latina and Global Partnerships to help address issues of poverty in the United States and abroad. He has traveled through Ecuador, Guatemala, and Uganda to promote environmental causes, and he initiated a rainforest conservation program in Ecuador that led to the development of the largest coastal rain forest reserve in South America. Matthew will be pursuing a master's degree in business administration at the continuing education program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Andrew Bonasso, 18
Swimmer, Musician, Aspiring Audio Engineer
Andrew Bonasso developed a deep love for music at a young age, which gave him the strength to help him overcome the physical pain and unexpected challenges he faced after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the tenth grade. Whether playing the drums, piano, guitar, or banjo, Andrew has always actively pursued his passion for music. Andrew gives listeners a truly unique experience of high energy and rhythm-inspired blues as a drummer in a band called "John Doe Trio." His other lifelong love is competitive swimming. In 2008, despite constant pain from his Crohn's disease, Andrew helped his swim team win its tenth consecutive state championship, which established his high school as a powerhouse in competitive swimming. Currently, Andrew is working toward his next big goal—becoming a professional audio engineer—and will be attending the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University.
John Capecelatro, 18
Honor Student, Class President, Realist
John Capecelatro's mantra—"take it as it comes"—has kept him focused and motivated since he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the third grade. Through all the hospitalizations, exhaustion, and pain, John has continually pushed himself. With honors classes, serving as class president for two consecutive years, and participating in countless other extracurricular activities, including acting as Secretary General of his school's Model UN Club, John has never let Crohn's hold him back. In fact, many of John's noteworthy high school achievements happened partially from his hospital room, including organizing the junior prom and his school's "Oil-Free Day," which encouraged students to walk or bike to school rather than drive. Both events were incredibly successful, and John did not let his Crohn's disease break his focus. John looks forward to pursuing his studies in business, finance, and German.
Vikram Chander, 29
Mentor, Builder, Future Leader
Vikram Chander describes his diagnosis with Crohn's disease as a transformative period in his life that taught him patience, perseverance, empathy, and humility. These virtues have guided and motivated Vikram to overcome major challenges, including helping his family and community recover from Hurricane Katrina after it devastated his hometown of New Orleans. Vikram left his job in New York City and returned to New Orleans to help rebuild his childhood home from the ground up, and even helped rebuild the homes of two family friends facing similar damage. Vikram brought his hard work to the next level within his community when he worked with a real estate development firm focused on building affordable housing in the neighborhoods hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.
Overcoming the challenges of Crohn's and rebuilding his community have shaped Vikram's leadership skills in unanticipated, and incredibly valuable, ways. His goal is to help spearhead the long-term recovery of New Orleans. He plans to obtain a master's degree in business administration at Georgetown University.
Kristine Church, 30
Nurse, Swimmer, Mentor
Kristine Church discovered her aquatic passions in elementary school when she started swimming competitively. When she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 14, Kristine refused to let her Crohn's keep her from the freedom and strength she felt in the water. Kristine went on to become a decorated swimmer in college, setting records for the 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyle swims. Knowing firsthand the trials of living with Crohn's disease, Kristine has volunteered as a nurse at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's Camp Oasis. At Camp Oasis, Kristine has joined others living with Crohn's who never let the disease stifle their dreams and aspirations. As a nurse at the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Boston, Kristine aspires to embody the courage and perseverance of the Camp Oasis community, providing comfort and precision for each of her young patients every time she steps into the operating room.
Kristine will continue her rigorous studies in the nurse anesthesia program at Boston College.
Peter Damroth, 23
Artist, Educator, Scholar
Peter Damroth has always turned to his love of painting to help guide him through the challenges he faces in life, including his ongoing battle with Crohn's disease. Not only is Peter a dedicated, passionate artist but he is also a committed teacher, working at an elementary school in an underserved community. As a teacher, Peter incorporates the lessons he has learned through overcoming Crohn's to show the power of perseverance and help his students break through their own doubts and uphill battles. Peter is currently working toward a graduate degree in education at Barton College and hopes to continue working with children in underserved communities.
Jennie David, 19
Writer, Advocate, Future Child Psychologist
Diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 12, Jennie uses her experiences with Crohn's disease as daily inspiration for her prose. While her writing does not focus entirely on Crohn's disease, Jennie often uses her written and spoken voices to speak out about Crohn's and the many stigmas associated with the disease. As chair of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada's Youth Advisory Council, Jennie is an advocate and mentor for young people affected by Crohn's and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Jennie has spearheaded youth education projects and has encouraged her peers to join advocacy efforts. Known for her resilience and positive attitude through the hardest of times, Jennie is determined to continue lending her voice and supporting the Crohn's community. She is currently working towards her degree at Boston University, studying to become a pediatric psychologist, and hopes to care for children dealing with chronic diseases.
Blair Euteneuer, 22
Writer, Advocate, Future Author
Despite her diagnosis at age 17, Blair Euteneuer has pursued her passions of writing and volunteerism. Writing has become a way for her to cope with Crohn's disease and educate others and to encourage those who are struggling with similar challenges. In addition to her writing, Blair has been an advocate for volunteerism, working with the Girl Scouts of America, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). She has also been an active volunteer supporter of the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games, which touched the lives of more than 160,000 people with intellectual disabilities. Around the time of her diagnosis, her twin sister Brook was also diagnosed with Crohn's. Facing the difficulties of Crohn's together has been a major source of strength for both. Blair's persistence and resilience have carried over to her college campus, where she lends her leadership to groups such as Greek Ambassadors, honors societies, mentor programs and the Public Relations Student Society of America. Currently, Blair is working toward degrees in English and journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Blair hopes to pursue nonprofit work to help change the lives of others who are facing serious challenges and will stay involved with her local chapter of CCFA to continue raising awareness of Crohn's disease and inspire hope in others.
Brook Euteneuer, 22
Traveler, Advocate, Future Businesswoman
After her diagnosis of Crohn's disease at 17 years of age, Brook Euteneuer vowed not to let her disease hold her back. Knowing she was not alone in her battle helped. Her twin sister, Blair, was also diagnosed with Crohn's disease at around the same time. The disease has brought the sisters closer as they have worked together to overcome the hardships and celebrate their triumphs. Among the many activities that keep her busy, Brook is a recruitment team member for Delta Sigma Pi (a business honors society), business development intern for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and marketing intern for the University of Nebraska Press. Brook is also involved with her local chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), where she works to raise money and awareness of Crohn's disease in her community. One of her most significant volunteer experiences has been with the Special Olympics, helping to promote the USA National Games and recruit 8,000 volunteers. Brook will continue her study toward degrees in business administration and mass communication from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and plans to attend graduate school to earn a master's degree in business administration. She intends to continue working with the CCFA community to increase awareness of Crohn's disease.
Alexis Fischer, 18
Mentor, National Merit Scholar, Future Psychologist
Alexis Fischer has battled Crohn's disease since she was 10. From an early age, Crohn's disease has been the source of physical challenges, pain, and setbacks, but Crohn's has also given her unique insights and perspectives, which Alexis considers a gift. She is committed to leading a productive, fulfilling life and focuses on the positive, so much so that she has said her diagnosis was "the best thing ever to happen to me." Living with the disease has driven her to succeed in the classroom, as well as within the Crohn's community. She is a National Merit Scholar and in the top 3 percent of her class. In addition, she has volunteered at a summer camp for children with chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, supporting those like her going through a transformative stage in their lives. This fall, Alexis is attending New College of Florida, where she is majoring in psychology. Through her experiences with Crohn's disease, Alexis has discovered a new level of compassion and emotional maturity, and has reaffirmed her decision to become a child psychologist.
Matthew Fitzgerald, 19
Eagle Scout, Community Volunteer, Aspiring Pilot
Matthew Fitzgerald's fascination with planes began at a young age, and for as long as he can remember, has dreamt of becoming a pilot. As a child, he was more excited to fly than to reach his final destination. Many years later, a diagnosis of Crohn's disease seemed to make those dreams much more difficult. While many academies do not offer pilot training to those with chronic illnesses, Matt was determined to find a way to fly.
Through extensive research, Matt found colleges that offer flight training programs and would train him despite his Crohn's disease. His determination, as well as his stellar academics and commitment to extracurricular activities, paved the way to his acceptance at a top aviation school. In addition to his love of aviation, Matt is dedicated to serving his community. He earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout and several Eagle Palm awards by organizing a food and clothing drive for the homeless in his community. Matt also worked as a volunteer junior counselor at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's Camp Oasis, where he used his personal experiences with Crohn's disease to show other children living with the disease that nothing is impossible. Matt will begin his aviation studies at Florida Institute of Technology, where he is eager to earn his commercial piloting license.
Brandon Gillman, 18
Scholar, Athlete, Fund-raiser
Even though he was diagnosed as a young boy in elementary school, Brandon has never let the disease get in his way, especially when it comes to his love of sports. Brandon is proud to have finished the Miami Half-Marathon on behalf of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, raising more than $13,000 for Crohn's research. Brandon ran the race with his father and never faltered in his commitment to training, waking up early before school and on the weekends to run as many as 11 miles a day. Brandon's work on behalf of the Crohn's community extends beyond the race course. By the age of 11, he was sharing his personal story at speaking events and raising funds to help find a cure for the disease. Despite the ongoing challenges of living with Crohn's, including flare-ups, doctor's appointments, and treatment schedules, Brandon has maintained a strong grade point average, a rigorous class schedule and a positive outlook on what the future has in store for him. Brandon will attend Washington University in the fall of 2010, and plans to major in engineering
Jesse Gottfried, 17
Photographer, Movie Fanatic, Art Enthusiast
Jesse Gottfried was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was 5 years old, but discovered his love for photography at the age of 7 and has found hope, inspiration, and enjoyment through art ever since. Having Crohn's disease has made physical activities like playing sports difficult for him; however, photographing the games is a way for him to be part of his team. Jesse was named a youth ambassador for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation in Long Island and helped them raise more than $50,000. Despite missed days of school as a result of his Crohn's, Jesse has excelled in his high school's art, film, and TV production classes. Jesse hopes to one day reach others living with Crohn's through photography and film, and plans to study graphic design and media at Briarcliffe College.
Keri Gurule, 42
Mother, Medical Assistant, Student
When Keri was diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a senior in high school, she made the difficult decision to put her career aspirations on hold. She was told nursing school was extremely stressful, which can be a leading cause of flare-ups, so she decided instead to attend a business school close to home. After achieving a successful career in human resources and raising a family, Keri returned to her dreams of becoming a nurse. In addition to managing a busy family and taking college classes full-time, Keri persevered through extended stays in the hospital and multiple surgeries. At times, she has even insisted on leaving the hospital early to attend class and take exams. Keri is currently studying as part of the Ohlone College nursing program.
Stephanie Harris, 20
Accomplished Student, Motivated Dreamer, Future Anthropologist
A gifted student who dreamed of becoming an anthropologist, Stephanie Harris discovered she was pregnant shortly before beginning her college career at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). In addition to battling Crohn's disease, Stephanie was away from home. She became increasingly ill and lost weight. Stephanie knew she needed to seek help for the sake of her child's well-being as well as her own. Throughout her pregnancy, and while managing the complications of inflammatory bowel disease, Stephanie continued to attend classes full-time and maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Despite the personal challenges she has faced, Stephanie has the unique ability to remain positive. She is committed to her studies, and will graduate from IUPUI just three years after starting. Stephanie plans to begin working toward a master's degree in urban anthropology as soon as she receives her undergraduate diploma.
Moriah Heintzelman, 19
First Chair Flutist, Dean's List Scholar, Crohn's Educator
Moriah Heintzelman has faced countless challenges living with Crohn's disease, but she refuses to let them deter her from achieving her goals. Despite serious flare-ups that left her unable to eat or drink for days at a time, Moriah has excelled throughout high school and college, securing spots in the National Honor Society in high school and the dean's list at Otterbein College. Outside the classroom, Moriah is a first chair flutist at her college, an active member of her church, a Young Life leader, and a passionate advocate for others living with Crohn's disease. In addition, Moriah and her high school classmates sold homemade bracelets to raise awareness about Crohn's disease, raising more than $3,000 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Moriah's efforts inspired others, showing them they were not alone in the challenges they face with this chronic illness. Moriah is a student at Oberlin College and dreams of being a schoolteacher.
Eric Hoffman, 18
Singer, Chemist, Optimist
Two weeks after Eric Hoffman turned 11, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. But, even when Eric had 19 inches of his intestines removed, and missed the entire final semester of his sophomore year recovering, Eric never let Crohn's disease define him. While he had to give up activities like karate and baseball, he never let it stop him from his greatest passion: singing. Eric has sung in many choirs, including his church choir, his high school's Men's Ensemble and a prestigious children's choral group in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Equally as impressive are Eric's accomplishments in chemistry. He has competed in several competitions, both nationally and internationally, and has been awarded first prize for his entry in an American Chemical Society competition. Eric lives well beyond the boundaries of Crohn's disease and is working towards a degree in chemical engineering at Kettering University.
Kacie Hoyle, 18
Creative Writer, Future Doctor, Crohn's Warrior
Kacie Hoyle considers herself a Crohn's warrior. Since she was 8 years old, she has gone through six physically and emotionally draining surgeries to treat the disease. Yet, she has still managed to become vice president of her senior class, a member of the National Honor Society, a creative writer, an enthusiastic pianist, a varsity soccer player, a Sunday school teacher, and a clerk at her local library. Kacie's greatest ambition, however, is to become a pediatrician. Having suffered from Crohn's disease from a young age, she can empathize with children enduring pain and sickness. She is currently majoring in biology at Carson-Newman College and plans to attend medical school upon completion of her undergraduate degree.
Sam Linnerooth, 19
Camp Counselor, Soccer Player, Future Gastroenterologist
Sam Linnerooth gives everything he has on the soccer field, a level of exertion that did not seem possible when he was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the fourth grade. Today, Sam is a member of his high school's varsity team. During his junior year, Sam underwent surgery to remove 18 inches of his small intestine, but was determined to stay in shape to play soccer with the team his senior year. Both Sam's struggles and his victories have helped him develop empathy, compassion, self-discipline, and gratitude, and have driven him to pursue a future in gastroenterology. He has worked with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), which has inspired him to spread his motivational messages throughout his community and nationwide. As a volunteer CCFA camp counselor and Leader-in-Training, he raised nearly $10,000 for research, was named CCFA's Seattle Honored Hero and spoke about his experiences during a CCFA charity walk. In addition to the success he has achieved as a volunteer, Sam is an accomplished student and graduated as his class salutatorian. Sam will begin his collegiate studies at Colgate University and plans to attend medical school and succeed regardless of the challenges that may come from his Crohn's.
Natalie Linton, 18
Language Enthusiast, Crohn's Educator
As a camp counselor for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) Camp Oasis, Natalie ("Tali") Linton has begun what she plans to be a lifelong career in public service. In addition, Tali played high school varsity field hockey, plays the French horn for her college's orchestra, and tutors at her Hebrew school. She also speaks fluent Spanish, is studying Mandarin Chinese and is teaching herself French. Tali has also finished two half-marathons to raise money for CCFA, and was a top 10 fundraiser for CCFA nationwide. She even made a personal contribution to CCFA by donating her bat mitzvah gifts. Tali hopes to organize a benefit concert some day to help raise awareness about the disease. She currently attends Skidmore College, where she plans to focus on language and continue to pursue public service, potentially taking classes to teach English as a second language.
Celeste Lipkes, 21
Award-Winning Poet, Premed Scholar, Role Model
Celeste Lipkes has developed a love for both the poetic and the scientific, which have helped her thrive beyond the daily challenges of Crohn's disease. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician to care for children living with chronic illness. A student at Johns Hopkins University, she has remained academically competitive while flying back and forth between college and her home in Florida to receive treatments for her Crohn's. Outside of the classroom, Celeste writes poetry, and won the Bellevue Literary Review's 2009 Prize for Poetry. She also dedicates time to the Crohn's community as a volunteer camp counselor at the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's Camp Oasis, sharing her success to encourage and inspire young children living with Crohn's not to let their disease define them. Celeste aspires to attend medical school, in pursuit of her ultimate goal, which will enable her to blend her courage, empathy, and commitment for her future patients.
Leo Newman, 28
Volunteer, Gifted Student, Community Leader
Leo Newman was living his dream volunteering as a relief worker for the poor in China when he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. The diagnosis dramatically changed Leo's life, but brought a new resolve to his work in China. His decision not to let Crohn's defeat him set the tone for his future, and he returned to the United States after two successful years in China. Leo volunteers teaching English as a second language, teaches Sunday school, and is a worship group leader at his church, all while working a full-time job. Leo currently attends graduate school at Liberty University, where he has maintained a high grade point average while studying to become a licensed professional counselor. As a counselor, Leo hopes to use his experiences with Crohn's disease to help others living with chronic illness.
McKenna Plant, 18
Runner, Photographer, Eager College Freshman
When McKenna Plant crossed the finish line of her first half-marathon, she thought back to the year before, when she underwent a month-long hospital stay as a result of Crohn's disease. McKenna's hard work and passion in the face of Crohn's helped her finish the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's Team Challenge Half Marathon, and also ignited her lifelong ambition to help others with chronic illnesses. McKenna has demonstrated her strength in the classroom and through creative pursuits. She is a top member of her high school class and a talented photographer, and has bounced back from her Crohn's diagnosis to rejoin her school's cross-country team. Through her personal blog, she has courageously shared the thoughts, emotions, and challenges she has experienced living with Crohn's. Her blog has helped her cope and has brought inspiration and comfort to others, both young and old, struggling with the disease. McKenna will continue to blossom as she enters her freshman year at the University of California at Berkeley.
Jesse Prager, 18
Camp Counselor, Varsity Skier, Passionate Volunteer
Diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 4, Jesse Prager can barely remember life without a chronic illness. But Jesse has never let Crohn's disease hinder his ambitions, despite a childhood full of doctors' visits, hospital stays, and constantly being poked and pricked. Jesse is an active, accomplished high school student: he's on the honor roll and a member of the varsity ski team and the theater department. In his free time, Jesse volunteers for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, his local children's museum, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's Camp Oasis. He thrives as a role model for the campers, showing them they are not alone in the challenges they face with Crohn's disease. Jesse loves helping young boys and girls realize they can lead normal lives, and that Crohn's should not stop them from doing the things they love. Jesse hopes one day to become a physician. He will attend the University of Connecticut as a premed major.
Charles Roberts, 19
Traveler, Volunteer, Future Doctor
Charles Roberts aspires to become a doctor. He has faced immense challenges growing up with a chronic illness, yet he was not deterred. Charles keeps a busy schedule and carefully chooses activities that will help him become a physician who treats patients with medical expertise, support, and compassion to help them overcome chronic diseases. He recently completed an internship in the GI Clinic at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, supporting its ongoing research efforts, and is involved with his Sunday school youth council and choir and volunteers at several nursing homes, hospitals, and homeless shelters. In addition, he is a member of the Salvation Army Youth Advisory Council where he assists both local and international communities, including medical mission trips to San Marcos, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; Ecuador; and Costa Rica. Charles also has started a nonprofit organization to serve children with Crohn's disease. At Austin College, Charles will continue pursuing his ambition of becoming a doctor.
Alyssa Rollando, 18
Swimmer, Advocate, Future Biomedical Engineer
Alyssa Rollando thrives on a rigorous schedule and is always in search of new challenges. Competitive swimming, honors classes, Girl Scouts, Youth Ambassador, and community volunteering are just the tip of the iceberg. Even after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease two years ago, Alyssa has stayed true to her personal philosophy, "If you are not doing your best, then it is not worth doing." She has excelled in her rigorous course schedule, and is also an accomplished, nationally competitive swimmer with the Gold Medal Swim Club. Alyssa also goes above and beyond to serve her community. As Youth Ambassador for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's Southwest Chapter, she has raised more than $2,000 through the 2010 Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis Fundraising Walk, and participates in numerous speaking engagements and awareness events. She also helped her local Girl Scout troop give swimsuits to Girl Scouts who could not afford them for summer camp, collecting more than 300 donated suits. Alyssa dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer working in artificial organ development and will continue her studies at Bucknell University.
Mallory Rowley, 18
Pianist, Valedictorian, Future Medical Researcher
Crohn's disease has fueled Mallory Rowley's determination, helping her become an Advanced Placement scholar, member of the National Honor Society, and valedictorian of her high school class of 600 students. Outside the classroom, she is a dancer, an award-winning writer, a student mentor, and a church volunteer. One of her proudest accomplishments is her skill as a pianist. Mallory has played the piano on a nationally competitive level for ten years. Playing the piano is her true love, her source of comfort, and her way to cope when Crohn's presents a setback or challenge. Mallory will be studying at Colgate University, where she plans to major in biology and has dreams of medical school. She wants to become a physician or medical researcher to help develop a cure for Crohn's disease. Mallory donates blood samples and tissue from her biopsies at Boston Children's Hospital, as part of the institution's Crohn's disease research efforts and her personal commitment to contribute to finding a cure.
Benjamin Shuham, 18
Golfer, National Merit Scholar, Mentor
Ben Shuham feels most at ease when he's on the golf course, because his mind and body are free of the challenges he faces living with Crohn's disease. His passion for golf did not seem possible when he was diagnosed with Crohn's at age 8 and had to give up physical activities such as baseball and soccer. Now Ben is the captain of his high school's varsity golf team, and uses both his brain and his body to compete. But Ben's leadership, motivation and inner strength extend beyond the golf course. As President of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Scholar, a formidable member of the school debate team, and a dedicated volunteer who has served over 250 hours at his local hospital, Ben has committed his life to living beyond the boundaries of Crohn's. During his sophomore year of high school, Ben served as Youth Ambassador for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's Take Steps Walk, sharing his story about growing up with Crohn's disease and helping to raise over $200,000 for research. He will be attending Williams College, where he plans to continue mentoring others to help them learn from their battles in life, just as he has living with Crohn's.
Danielle Tekut, 20
Dancer, Runner, Future Anthropologist
A competitive dancer since the age of 7, Danielle Tekut has mastered tap, jazz, ballet, and everything in between. Dancing, running, and yoga help Danielle relieve stress, which is critical for anyone living with Crohn's. She is currently training to run a half-marathon. In addition to her physically active lifestyle, Danielle is also active in her community. She volunteers with Cooney Dickinson Hospital in the nutrition department and tutors children in math and science through a local literacy program. Danielle Tekut was always a top-performing high school student, but Crohn's disease forced her to put her dream of a college degree on hold after her freshman year at Smith College. But after a year-long hiatus, she fought back and recovered from the debilitating pain, emotional trials, severe flare-ups, and weight loss. She has reclaimed her life and looks forward to stepping back onto campus with renewed strength and focus. Danielle dreams of becoming a social impact researcher, focusing on food and nutrition and how they affect global hunger and chronic illness.
Christina Wohlers, 18
Cheerleader, Miss Teen Gresham, Future Physical Therapist
While her classmates were juggling school dances, SAT exams, and college visits, Christina Wohlers was undergoing invasive surgeries and hospital stays. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease her junior year, Christina had emergency surgery due to her excruciating symptoms. She spent a month in the hospital and was released weighing only 90 pounds. Christina worked diligently during her recovery to maintain her studies and returned to school four months later. Christina's grit also brought her back to her number-one passion by her senior year: cheerleading. She worked endlessly over the summer to regain her strength and joined the varsity team for her final year as a flyer and tumbler. She also became involved with fund-raising and advocacy for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Christina also won the title of Miss Teen Gresham 2010, which earned her a chance to compete in the statewide Miss Teen Oregon scholarship pageant on behalf of children living with a chronic illness. Christina will continue her studies at Concordia University and plans to become a physical therapist so she can devote her life to helping children who live with chronic illnesses.