At age 11, Brian Greenberg was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The illness became more intense during his early teenage years, and between the ages of 19 to 21, he endured numerous surgeries caused by advanced symptoms. By age 27, he had surgery for an ileostomy and eventually underwent a proctectomy to make his ostomy permanent. Instead of becoming a prisoner to his condition, Brian celebrated his life and took to the outdoors.
Love For The Great Outdoors
Brian fell in love with rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and everything nature had to offer. He believed that being able to battle elements outdoors and adapting to the situation, gave him strength in his fight against Crohn’s disease.
After recovering from proctectomy surgery in 2014, Brian took on an ambitious goal of completing a 70.3 half Ironman triathlon, something he wanted to accomplish ever since his initial ostomy surgery in 2011. It was his same strength and determination about life that inspired Brian to give back by creating a national support group called Intense Intestines Foundation.
“Run by Patients and Former Patients”
Everyone working or volunteering at the Intense Intestines Foundation (IIF) has faced their own challenges with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a similar illness. By organizing fundraising events, running Social Media campaigns and bringing joy into the lives of others, the IIF team encourages people to come together to create awareness for IBD and ostomies.
One annual event is “Cycling the Big Apple for Crohn’s and Colitis,” where members of the IIF team and supporters raise awareness for IBD by participating in a 40-mile bike ride through the city of New York.
A Mindful Mission
“The Intense Intestines Foundation’s mission is to help patients in their journey with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ostomies by connecting, supporting and educating those with IBD and their loves ones by promoting a healthy lifestyle.”
Here are the unique programs IIF offers:
Intense Intestines Scholarship: University Scholarships to help offset the rising cost of education for those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
IBDebt Program: Designed to assist those with high medical bills and to help cover some of the costs associated with IBD. Applications are currently being accepted at the time of this writing.
Beyond the Bathroom Awareness Campaign: Social Media campaign to raise awareness for IBD. You can view compelling stories and photos by following the #beyondthebathroom hashtag on Twitter.
The Call to Action
Intense Intestines Foundation has created an incredibly helpful website filled with resources, events, and fundraising initiatives in an effort to educate the general public about inflammatory bowel disease. But most importantly, they offer a safe place where people can go and feel comfortable knowing they are not alone.
Brian and many other IBD advocates are dedicated to helping others by inspiring patients to take control of their challenges. By connecting with others who have similar illnesses, together, everyone thrives.
Photos provided by Brian Greenberg.