Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of attending an event for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. American Idol finalist Casey Abrams is being named the first IBD Icon by CCFA. What’s IBD Icons? Glad you asked. It’s a program that aims to recognize people who live with Crohn’s or Colitis and are following their dreams.
Casey is in Chicago for the American Idol concert tonight, so the CCFA Illinois Chapter hosted a meet and greet with him. I really don’t follow American Idol. I think the only winners I can name off the top of my head are Kelly Clarkson, Lee DeWyze, and Carrie Underwood. I know Clay Aiken was on the show too. And that’s about it. But I was excited about the opportunity to meet others with UC, and really interested in what Casey would say. So I grabbed my friend Charlotte and off we went.
Being there was wonderful and strange all at the same time. About half of the people in the room had either Crohn’s or Colitis, and the other half were there with someone who did. It wasn’t weird to walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and then ask, “So, do you have an IBD?”
That caught me off guard at first. I’m not used to telling my the story of my UC diagnosis within the first few words I exchange with another person. It was also refreshing. Outside of the blogs I follow, I’ve only known one other person with UC. Words can’t describe how nice it was to be around so many people who truly understood.
My friend Charlotte seemed right at home with all the people discussing their bodily functions. She discussed Casey’s favorite Disney Princess with him (Cinderella) and listened to everyone’s stories with support and interest. She and Casey decided to take a serious picture together.
We also met Ally, who is pretty freaking amazing.
When Ally was 14, a manager at a department store denied her access to a bathroom, despite knowing about her Crohn’s Disease. As they were driving home, she and her mom vowed to make changes so it wouldn’t happen to anybody else. Ally contacted her Illinois State Representative, testified before a committee, and after a lot of hard work, “Ally’s Law” was passed in 2005. As of 2010, Ally’s Law had been passed in 11 states and was pending in at least 10 others.
I thanked Ally for her hard work, and she replied, “Some things just fall into your lap and you have to do them.” What Ally doesn’t seem to realize is that not everyone would. I am grateful to her and others like her who work hard to make a difference.
At the end of the afternoon, Casey got up to address everyone. He talked about how reluctant he was to discuss his UC at first, but said that because he’s now in a position where people know about him and his IBD, he feels it’s his responsibility to speak out. Casey was just diagnosed about a year and a half ago, and his ulcerative colitis seems very similar to mine — frustrating and sometimes limiting, but mostly manageable.
As Casey spoke, it became clear that he was just like everyone else in the room. He wanted to talk to those affected by Crohn’s and Colitis and learn something. He wanted people he could relate to. It was kind of cool to see that we all wanted the same thing: somebody to understand what it’s like.
After a Q&A session, Casey drew winners for 2 tickets to the American Idol Live concert tonight.
Ally and I are heading to the show tonight, and we’re even on the list for a meet and greet after the show. I don’t ever win things, so this is especially exciting for me.
Have you ever met someone famous? Were they easy or difficult to relate to? What is the coolest thing you’ve ever won?