Every training run, race, and honestly, every day is a struggle. I know a day will come that I will no longer be able to run” said Jenni in a heartbreaking confession.
Jenni is one of more than 1.6 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease.
It’s a disorder that attacks the digestive tract.
“You’re immune system thinks your own body is bad and it attacks itself.” said Jenni. It’s a way of explain the disorder to people who may not fully understand the scope of just what people like her have to go through every day.
“In November of 2009 after lots of testing I was diagnosed…I tried and failed over five medications to control my disease.” Running out of options and hope for a healthier life, Jenni fought for peace for 4 years.
“Look up the side effects for any of these types of drugs and you’ll soon realize that you don’t know which is worse- the disease or the treatment.”
Finally in 2012, Jenni began taking an IV drug that started to work.
“I’m still on this drug to this day. I have a special IV access port placed in my chest and I get my infusions every four weeks…Shortly after starting this medication I heard of an fundraising and endurance running program called Team Challenge (TC). It was put together by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) to help raise money for research towards better treatment options and hopefully someday a cure. This program began the long journey of healing my spirit and my body. Starting this program I honestly got tired walking to my mailbox, and it’s attached to the front of my house. In a matter of 16 weeks I completed my first half marathon in Napa. I got bit by the running bug, bad!”
Not a bad bug to get bit by. Now Jenni and her husband travel around the U.S. checking off states while continuing to battle Crohn’s.
But the travel and training comes a new pain, arthritis brought on by the disorder.
The pain isn’t stopping her yet. “While my body will not tolerate more marathons…
In the mean time, my husband and I continue to travel, run, and see places we never would have thought to visit… o date we have raised over $20,000 to help support research and education programs.
When we run the South Padre Marathon, we will complete state #22 while finishing around our 30th half marathon….One step at a time I keep living.”
This is why Jenni’s nickname is “Unbreakable.”
From the South Padre Island Marathon Family, we’ll see you at the finish line.