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Honored Heroes share their stories to let other patients know they are not alone on their journeys — because no one should face the challenges and uncertainty of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in isolation. Through their stories, Honorees raise awareness of these diseases, raise funds to support the Foundation’s mission and inspire hope in those living with IBD.

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It all started on June 6th when Kya woke up sick. Before this she was a healthy multi-sport 15-year-old. After many visits with her pediatrician, she was sent to see a gastroenterologist. As she was playing softball on June 25, 2022, her mom received a phone call saying that she needed to be admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on June 26, 2022, for emergency scopes. The day after her admission, she had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy done. The doctors found out quickly that her diagnosis was ulcerative colitis. The first medical therapy she tried was steroids and Remicade. After a 9 day stay, she was discharged to go home. A short 3 weeks went by, and she was admitted back to Children’s Hospital. The doctors quickly found out that she was unresponsive to Remicade and her symptoms were progressing. She then had to take 22 pills a day, 4 antibiotics and 1 steroid, on top of a different infusion called Entyvio. After 16 days, her symptoms started to decrease and she was discharged.

She had a scheduled follow-up visit on October 20, 2022, however her symptoms started to worsen weeks prior to the appointment. This lead to another inpatient stay, but this stay was different. She received another infusion of Entyvio and had her blood levels checked to see if she should be responding to the infusion. The levels came back showing that she should be reacting, however this wasn’t the case. After many phone calls, she was prescribed a new medication called Xeljanz. The doctors gave this medication 48-72 hours before they decided on the next step. Unfortunately, again this medication wasn’t the answer. The next step was to have her entire colon removed and an ostomy put in place. However, she had to wait an extra week before having surgery. Throughout that week, she was at her worst. She received a PICC line and was put on TPN and lipids. Finally the time came and it was time for surgery. It was a 5 hour process and it went very well. Within 48 hours she was up walking. After surgery, the decision was made that Kya wanted to be an advocate for all Crohn’s and colitis patients. 

Kya was asked by Children’s Hospital to share her story on their Facebook page. After leaving the hospital, Kya immediately set up a blanket drive for floor 8B. This has continued since her initial surgery. She has mentored other children that have had a total colectomy surgery done  Lastly, Kya had the opportunity to attend the 2023 Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Gala and most importantly has the privilege to be the 2024 Take Steps Pediatric Honored Hero. 

Currently, Kya is a junior at Union High School. She participates in basketball, softball, volleyball, National Honors Society, Student Council, Prom Committee, and around Ball Club.  Concluding her sophomore year, after spending a month of it in the hospital, she had a 4.0+ GPA and was 2nd in her class rank. Kya’s current plan after high school is to major in Pre-Med with a specialty in pediatrics and gastroenterology. She is excited to continue to advocate and share her story. 


 HONORED caregivers

Casey Corcoran & Family

My nephew, Dameon, was diagnosed with Crohn’s in December 2021 at the age of 16. At that moment, I knew I could not help him medically, so I started to brainstorm. “What can I do to help?” My first reaction was to start researching where I stumbled upon Take Steps. Here I found that the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation would be a valuable resource for my family and me. By this time, Dameon’s brother, Joey, was diagnosed with Crohn’s also.  I was passionate about educating myself and the community about IBD. I soon realized we were not alone in this journey. Given the resources from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, together we will continue to find ways to advocate, educate, and fundraise in hopes that more research and more medical treatments become available. The ultimate goal is to find the cure for those living with IBD. I want Dameon and Joey to grow up with no limitations, know they are supported and that finding a cure is possible. There is a whole community working to find a cure- they are not alone.


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