Kutztown resident runs for a cure to Crohn's Disease

Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson Sarah Allard, Kutztown, entered a half marathon to help find a cure for Crohn's Disease.

Kutztown resident Sarah Allard, 36, will run in a half marathon to help find a cure for Crohn’s Disease.

After years of feeling ill then being told there wasn’t anything wrong and finally needing four surgeries, Allard decided to fight back by entering a half marathon sponsored by The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, CCFA as a Team Challenge.

“This is my first one so part of it is to see if I could, but mostly because I would never wish this on my worst enemy so I would certainly like to see a cure at some point; it would be nice if it was in my lifetime,” said Allard. “At least I know that this money is going back to try and help find a cure.”

Allard is a member of the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley team. Each member has a goal of $3,800 to meet for a half marathon held in Las Vegas called the Rock and Roll Marathon Series. For every mile there’s a band providing music for every step taken. More than 80 percent of the $3,800 raised goes to finding a cure and raising awareness for the disease. The remaining amount helps to pay for the trip.

“There are a couple of people on our team that are already over $5,000,” said Allard. “The majority of mine has come from amazing friends and family. I do pretzel sales at work. I’m selling apple dumplings and pumpkin pie. I did a letter writing campaign; I’m hoping for some sort of corporate sponsorship. It would make it a little bit easier; I’m scared.”

While Allard is financially committed, she has until December to raise the entire amount; the marathon is being held on Nov. 17.

Allard said there are only two times a year they shut the strip down in Las Vegas and this is one of them. She also added that last year there were 32,000 participants and that they are expecting 40,000 this year. The event is not limited to one organization, but rather it is a mecca for many fund-raising groups.

Although Allard was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 20, she believes that her trouble began when she was only 12.

“When I was in grade five, they suspected I had appendicitis, but I never had my appendix out and a lot of times Crohn’s is initially misdiagnosed as appendicitis. There are multiple cases where somebody gets cut open to have their appendix out and they realize there is nothing wrong with the appendix and it goes from there,” said Allard.

Allard said the few times her parents took her to a pediatrician for stomach pain they were told she was probably doing it for attention. She laughed as she said she was the only child and was spoiled so how much more attention could she need?

By the time she was diagnosed, treatment wasn’t helping. Allard needed the first of four surgeries within a month to remove sections of diseased intestinal tract. She said her current treatments consist of injections every two weeks and medications.

“Before I was on humira, I’m sure I couldn’t have held down a full time job,” said Allard. “It’s much better than it was, but I still have the bad days.”

Allard monitors the CCFA’s website, www.ccfa.org, for updates of breakthroughs or new medications. She feels the information has been very helpful. It was through CCFA’s website that she learned about the ways she could help or find support from others who suffer.

She said the closest group meetings are in Philadelphia. The commute makes it difficult at times so Allard is considering the idea of starting a chapter for this region. The team she is currently with has members from Hazleton, Easton, and even as far as New Jersey.

“I was wondering if there would be enough people between Berks and Lehigh; I don’t know how I’d find out where they are,” said Allard. “I would hope that there’s enough people in Berks and Lehigh.”

Allard said people could contact her at sarah.allard@gmail.com.

Allard had been looking for a local restaurant to hold a fund-raising night. Despite rejections and no-replies, there was one offer of help from Glenn Rigg, owner of The Ugly Oyster Drafthaus in Reading. There will be a fundraiser on Monday, Nov. 4, at The Ugly Oyster.

“Everyone that comes in with a flyer, a portion of their meal goes back to the charity. Somewhere between 15 and 20 percent, it’s up to the discretion of the restaurant,” said Allard. “The reason I wanted to do it with a local restaurant is that it’s going to bring in people that may not have necessarily known that restaurant was there.”

Allard will also be selling silicon bracelets along with a Five Below fundraiser. For more information on Allard and her fundraising efforts go to http://tinyurl.com/sarahlvmarathon.

According to CCFA, www.ccfa.org, Chron’s disease is not the same thing as ulcerative colitis, another type of inflammatory bowel disease. While the disease most commonly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, it can also affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract beginning at the mouth.

Crohn’s is more prevalent in people between the ages of 15 to 35 with symptoms varying from person to person. To learn more about the disease and CCFA, go to http://www.ccfa.org/what-are-crohns-and-colitis/what-is-crohns-disease/.

Allard is already looking to see where the CCFA’s marathons are being held next year. She is looking forward to earning her first medal and has plans on hanging it somewhere as proof of what her efforts had accomplished. She plans to continue on fundraising and raising awareness.

Allard feels that people should know what the disease is and understand so those who suffer from what she said is an embarrassing disease wouldn’t have to feel embarrassed trying to explain what is happening.