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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.

My name is Billy Dowell, Jr and I live in Jacksonville, FL.  I graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Microbiology and was a member of the Men's Golf Team.  I am currently working in the golf industry at Coastal Indoor Golf Jacksonville Beach.

I was introduced to golf at the age of 4 and began playing tournaments at 9 years old.  My golf dreams began growing up in Union City, TN.  Playing golf at the highest level was my goal.  My health journey greatly changed this direction, but did not stop my dreams.

My journey with Inflammatory Bowel Disease began in 2003.  I was 27 years old and just married living in Philadelphia, PA doing graduate education.  I was originally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and later with a final diagnosis of Crohn's Disease.  After suffering in the late 1990's with what was believed to be chronic Sacroiliitis, the severe GI onset occurred.  This soon led me to the hospital which turned into approximately 3 months.  On July 4, 2003, my colon perforated leaving me with emergency surgery.  I awoke in surgical ICU to realize I had an Ileostomy.  My health and life had drastically changed in four months time.  Still to this day I remember receiving IBD Educational and support information from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation during this time.  

Due to my health problems, I had to stop graduate school and adapt to a new way of life.  We relocated to be near my wife's family in Central Florida.  In 2003, I came to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and eventually underwent J-Pouch surgery in 2004.  I was also diagnosed with additional autoimmune diseases in the coming years which presented multiple challenges.   In July 2011, I began taking Humira.  Humira was the medication that helped my Crohn's Disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Uveitic Glaucoma.  My phenomenal medical team at Mayo Clinic never wavered having great perseverance that helped me return to better health.  

IBD took me out of some prime years in life and forever changed my life in many ways.  This disease caused me to lose approximately 100 lbs at my worst, be fed by a pic line, and experience excruciating pains.  To the positives, it has driven me back towards the game of golf. Returning to my passion of golf taking some focus off of my disease.  I call this my second golfing life and once again working to compete at the highest level.  IBD put optimism in me knowing only one way to get and that is better.  I am an optimist and a great encourager now since battling IBD and developing a mindset to keep on keeping on through challenges. My experiences have driven a passion to encourage other IBD patients to keep chasing their dreams through the ups and downs.  My journey with this chronic disease has been long and demanding much perseverance.  My heart desires patients coming behind me to see they too can regain health returning to their dreams and passions.  

I am grateful to be the 2024 Crohn's and Colitis Take Steps Adult Nominee.  I am passionate to help and encourage others with Crohn's and Colitis.  My drive is to raise funds for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation increasing awareness, generating more research, and discovering a cure one day soon.  

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

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