Sin City is about to be overrun. Not by folks looking to make a quick buck, but by those looking to make important bucks, for a good cause.
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be descending upon Las Vegas this December. Its Team Challenge members will running a half-marathon, the latest race to raise funds for to find a cure for Crohn's Disease and Colitis.
More than 1.7 million Americans are affected by the diseases, both of them inflammatory bowel disorders. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed with medication and diet.
The Long Island chapter of the foundation paid a visit to Farmingdale on Aug. 25, holding a kickoff party at the to usher in the new race season. The event doubled as an info seminar to bring in new members.
"We're looking for new recruits and we have a lot of people coming back because they love it," said L.I. chapter executive director Edda Ramsdell. "It's become a way of life for so many people, it has such heart, such spirit, and it's really a family."
Team Challenge trains members to run a half-marathon. Clinics on biomechanics, nutrition, and even what sneakers to buy are held over a two month period. In return, runners must raise a certain amount of money for the foundation. From securing corporate sponsors right on down to the local bake sale, any method of fundraising is in play.
If you meet your fundraising goal, it's off to the races, with all expenses covered. This past year saw races held in Kona, Hawaii and Virginia wine country. The Long Island chapter raised nearly $200,000 total for both events.
Next up is Vegas, with a race under the lights. Members say the trips are a blast, but remain focused on what they're running for.
"We are doing everything we can to help CCFA as they employ researchers who are searching to find a cure and searching for better treatment and patient services," said Team Challenge endurance manager Brian Crocitto.
Team Challenge is about the people the disease affects, and the steps they take to combat Crohn's and Colitis. Those steps brought Howard and Tracey Sosnik of Merrick to the team. Howard has Crohn's and has undergone multiple surgeries. Their son has also been diagnosed with the disease. The couple has raised around $50,000, as Howard has five races under his belt.
Tracey has joined him on the track, and says if she can race, anyone can.
"I was a couch potato before we started this, I never ran a step in my life, not as a kid or young adult, so it's pretty cool that I can do this now," Tracey said.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except the efforts of Team Challenge. Those achievements spread throughout the Crohn's and Colitis community, in the hopes that a cure can one day be found at the finish line.
Go to http://www.ccteamchallenge.org/ to learn more about the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, and how to join Team Challenge.