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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.

To nominate a Take Steps Honoree, please complete this form.

Meet our 2024 Honored Heroes 

Pediatric Honored Hero: Lily Kotlicky 

Lily started experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms when she was 4 years old. She was misdiagnosed for 4 years and went to countless specialists, as her parents tried to determine what was going on. Finally in April of 2022 Lily was formally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and developed a plan with her doctor.

The next day was coincidentally the 2022 Fort Lauderdale Take Steps Walk. This was a world and community Lily never dreamt of or knew existed, and it became clear that she was surrounded by people determined to not let Crohn's Disease define them.

While Lily has experienced numerous setbacks, she continues to keep going and tackle any obstacle that is thrown her way. Lily is proud to be part of the 2024 Fort Lauderdale Take Steps Walk and honored to walk alongside people just like her. She understands how important it is to raise awareness to help find a cure. Lily knows that her life would probably be easier without Crohn’s Disease but it has also made her stronger. She is a warrior and a fighter.  

"I can still do everything I love and I don’t let it hold me back. I am able to go to school, play piano, love art, and go away to sleepaway camp during the summer. I will not let Crohn’s Disease prevent me from doing all of the things I enjoy. I will keep going."

To learn more about Lily visit her team page here

Rising Star Honored Hero: Shannon Howell 

"From my diagnosis at age 6, the journey with Crohn’s disease unfolded in a series of challenges and triumphs. The initial hospital visit remains etched in my memory – 10 tubes of blood drawn, and the fear of needles etched in my mind.

Navigating through Gastroenterologists, I eventually found hope with Dr. Langshaw at the University of Miami. Still, surgery became an unavoidable chapter, with the removal of the upper left side of my colon and the introduction of an ostomy bag that stayed with me for a year and a half.

Complications followed, each presenting a new set of challenges, with the hospital becoming a familiar setting. The summer before high school marked the removal of the ostomy bag, only to be followed by Crohn’s attacking my rectum, leading to innovative stent procedures.

Amidst these trials, a second opinion introduced the J pouch procedure, typically reserved for ulcerative colitis patients. Opting for a loop ostomy in January 2021 was a pivotal decision. Subsequent stent placements presented complications, leading to a hospital stay in March 2023, with significant weight loss and erratic blood work. The decision to remove the stent and rely on a PICC line for nutrition marked another phase in my journey.

Entering my twenties, the prospect of a J pouch procedure reappeared. As of now, my focus is on elevating iron levels, managing persistent pain, and awaiting the scheduling of my upcoming surgery.

This journey has been demanding, physically and emotionally. Yet, each chapter has contributed to shaping my resilience and determination. As I continue forward, I am grateful for the unwavering support surrounding me and optimistic about the road ahead."

To learn more about Shannon visit her team page here

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