Raleigh teen raises money for Crohn's, colitis research
Posted April 26, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Inflammatory bowel diseases are autoimmune disorders that affect the digestive system, limit daily activities, and can even lead to life-threatening complications.
Raleigh teen Robert Schurtman knows this all too well. At 12 years old, he starts every day with a complex regimen of medications – herbs, vitamins, fish oil and even aloe vera juice.
It's a necessary mixture to help control his ulcerative colitis, a common IBD in which the body's immune system attacks the lining of the large intestine, creating inflammation and open sores.
Schurtman was diagnosed two years ago after he noticed blood in his stool, cramping gas pains and more frequent, urgent visits to the bathroom.
"It's one of those treatable but not curable diseases," Mark Schurtman, Robert's father, said.
Maria Mariello, Robert's mother, said the family was relieved to learn he didn't have Crohn's Disease, which can impact the entire gastro-intestinal system.
"Ironically, we were in a celebratory mood," she said. "If you have a choice between Crohn's and colitis, colitis is the lesser of the two evils."
Since being diagnosed, he's worked feverishly on two goals – controlling his disease by balancing different treatments and helping others with similar bowel ailments.
"He seems to have achieved remission for the first time since his diagnosis," Mariello said. Raleigh teen fights IBD, raises money for others
The ability to control his symptoms allowed Robert and his family to start their own fundraising team for the Triangle Taking Steps for Crohn's and Colitis, a group that helps raise money for research.
"I want to help other people with this, so they can kind of be where I am," Robert said.
Nearing his monetary goal, Robert and his parents will take part Saturday in a walk on North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus.
The festival starts at 3 p.m., and the walk begins at 4 p.m.