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Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Ostomy Awareness Day. In partnership with United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA), Hollister Incorporated is proud to stand with the entire ostomy community in celebration. Every ostomate has a voice worth hearing and we aim to embody ostomy confidence of our worldwide community with #OstomateVoices.

Spread Positivity and Share Your Voice

We’re connecting and empowering our worldwide ostomy community to share their own unique experiences—their challenges, their achievements and the joys of their daily lives. Share your words of encouragement that have helped you along your ostomy journey. Your story might help someone who might be struggling. Using your words, we’ll create a unique social card that you can share with your friends, family, and community. Share your voice here!

Join Us for a Virtual Cooking Class

Join us for a virtual cooking class on October 3rd with private chefs Ryan Van Voorhis, a fellow ostomate, and Seth Bradley of Nude Dude Food™, one of Chicago’s most sought after private dining and catering services. Register today to connect with others in the community and cook a delicious meal. Register today!

For more resources on nutrition with an ostomy, check out UOAA’s Food Chart or download the “Eating with an Ostomy” Nutrition Guide.

Show Off Your Stoma Sticker

Stoma stickers are a great way to raise awareness, start a conversation, or show support. Order your free Stoma Stickers in time for Ostomy Awareness Day, shipped anywhere in the US.

Share a photo or video of your Stoma Sticker on social media using #StomaSticker to be part of the conversation. Or show off your Stoma sticker while running in your virtual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K and share how you celebrated #OstomyDay2020.

Share your #OstomateVoices and personalize your next Instagram or Facebook Stories with the Hollister “Ostomate Voices” digital stickers. It’s easy – search “Ostomate Voices” in the GIF library when creating a Story and you’ll find the whole collection, including a UOAA lifesaver and Stoma Sticker!

For more resources and interactive ways to get involved, visit Hollister.com/ostomyawareness.

Editor’s Note: this blog post was provided by Hollister Inc. the exclusive Diamond Sponsor of UOAA’s annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events that benefit UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

It can be hard to talk openly about living with an ostomy, but at Coloplast, our mission guides us in our everyday work and our employees embody a passion around hearing real-life stories from people with intimate healthcare needs. We have gotten to know Joel through his story, his resilience to keep fighting, and we are proud to stand with the ostomy community in raising awareness of ALL people living with an ostomy.

Join us, Joel and ostomates across the nation in participating in the Virtual Run for Resilience for the 10th Anniversary of Ostomy Awareness Day (OAD) on Saturday, October 03, 2020.

Joel’s Story

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 17 years old. Nine years later I had a very bad flare up that put me in the hospital fighting for my life. When the doctors first told me that the best option was to have ileostomy surgery, I was so upset but I was in so much pain I was hoping that it would make me feel better. When I finally woke up from surgery and realized I had an ileostomy – I cried. I didn’t even want to look at it. It took some time, but I got used to it, my stoma saved my life.

After surgery, the scariest thing for me was not knowing how I was going to move forward in life with an ileostomy. As soon as I got out the hospital, I began to work out every day, even if it was for 25-30 minutes. In 6 months, I was able to build my strength up enough to complete and graduate an intense 4-month police academy. Today, I continue to do what I love and recently completed my personal training certificate.

I am telling my story to tell you that you should never give up on something – even if it seems impossible. Stay strong, stay positive and keep pushing forward!

I am excited to walk, run with you all on Ostomy Awareness Day for the Run for Resilience and hope you will join in with me! I created this video, “Tips on Running with an Ostomy” for you all. I am always looking to connect, and support others so feel free to reach out to me if you need help, want to chat, or just need some support. You can find me on Instagram at @crohnically.fit

Join us for the Run for Resilience

Having an ostomy should not hold you back from participating in the run/walk. Our Coloplast® Care team is here to support you if you want to chat, just give us a call at 1-877-858-2656. We also have resources on our website on sports and exercise.

Coloplast is proud to be a part of the effort to build awareness that ostomies are lifesavers, visit our website to request a free sticker for OAD and join our contest for an opportunity to win some swag! We can’t wait to run/walk with you on October 03! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @coloplast.us for updates leading up to the event!

 

*Joel is a Coloplast product user who has received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information. Each person’s situation is unique, so your experience may not be the same. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether this product is right for you.

 

Editor’s Note: this blog post was provided by Coloplast Corp, a Gold Sponsor of UOAA’s annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events that benefit UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

 

A Decade of Shining a Positive Light on Lifesaving Ostomy Surgery

By Jeanine Gleba, UOAA Advocacy Manager

“Ostomates Unite and Help Place The Ostomy In A Positive Light! Celebrate UOAA’s Ostomy Awareness Day!”  These were the words that were spread when UOAA announced the first National Ostomy Awareness Day on July 25, 2010. A decade later, UOAA continues to sponsor and celebrate this day annually in the United States by raising awareness about this life-saving surgery and increasing national visibility of those living with ostomies. Starting in 2014, and all subsequent years, UOAA has been celebrating Ostomy Awareness Day on the first Saturday of October, which coincides with World Ostomy Day every three years. This year National Ostomy Awareness Day will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2020. 

The idea for an awareness day was originally suggested by Ally Bain, who worked with UOAA as a summer intern in 2010. (Flash forward, this is the same Ally instrumental for the Restroom Access Act (aka Ally’s Law).  The awareness day began as an experiment in social media to see what kind of grassroots support they could get for ostomy recognition. UOAA sent out a request on social media asking all followers to show their allegiance to the cause by changing their online status to the slogan above and make their profile picture UOAAs logo.  The immediate response was so strong that they were also contacted by friends at Talkin’ Bout Guts, to host a 24-hour live podcast in honor of ostomy awareness. Thousands participated that year.

In recent years, UOAA has also named an Ostomy Awareness Day Champion. This year’s champion is Robin Brown, pageant winner Mrs. Washington, who uses her stage platform to raise awareness for ostomy surgery “all in the hopes that it can be a light for someone stumbling in the darkness”.  Her ostomy story and journey from farm girl to the title of Mrs. Washington World America is inspiring. Watch her special video message for Ostomy Awareness Day!

Over the years, celebrations have been centered around several different themes including Bouncing Back into Life, Navigate the Journey Together, Speaking Out Changes Lives and, most recently, Ostomies Are Life-Savers.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary, here are 10 ways you can join the movement to raise ostomy awareness this year:

  1. Help shine a positive light on ostomy surgery and go “live” on your own at 7:00PM EDT on October 3rd with people all across the United States. Hit the “live” button on your personal social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram or TikTok) to shine a light on yourself and tell everyone how your ostomy saved your life or that of a loved one. If you are a medical professional, share how your work helps save lives. 
  2. Participate in our 7th annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k. This year our local Ostomy 5k events will be held virtually along with our annual worldwide virtual Run/Walk, so you can walk or run in your favorite place or at home. Visit www.ostomy5k.org to register or donate for one of these events. You can also join UOAA’s “United Advocates Smashing Stigma” team too!
  3. Create a fundraising team through one of our Ostomy 5k events and challenge your family, friends, Affiliated Support Group members, colleagues and coworkers to raise ostomy awareness and funds for a good cause! Have your teammates share the team campaign and see who can get the most donations. Better yet, ask your employer to match any donations raised! 
  4. Make a donation to the “Ostomy Awareness Fund” as a tribute to the 10th anniversary. Donate a minimum of $30 and receive a special bandana with the “Ostomies Are Life-Savers” graphic image.   These bandanas are also a great pet accessory.  Share a photo with UOAA of your pet raising ostomy awareness!
  5. Participate in some of the events we have planned with partners such as the Facebook Live Event that will be co-hosted with Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation on October 3rd. 
  6. Raise awareness and spread the message that ostomies are life-savers using our infographic. We encourage you to share, post or print it wherever possible. 
  7. Our Operation Ostomy – A Life Saver campaign continues to spread the message that we are saving lives one ostomy at a time. Please use our 10th Anniversary Ostomy Awareness Day logo for your profile picture on your social media accounts. Use the hashtags:  #OstomiesAreLifesavers #OstomyDay2020 and tag UOAA on Facebook @uoaainc  Instagram @uoaa_ or Twitter @uoaa. 
  8. Get your Federal, State or Local elected officials to pass a proclamation declaring October 3, 2020 as the 10th anniversary of this special day. Use our sample proclamation or take action here.
  9. Use our sample letter to the editor to share with your local media why ostomies are life-savers.
  10. Aside from Ostomy Awareness Day, October is full of fun fall activities. Carve a pumpkin (or paint) in an ostomy theme. “Shine a light” in your carved pumpkin and raise ostomy awareness in your neighborhood.

For more information and the latest ways to get involved including activities from some of our sponsors visit https://www.ostomy.org/ostomy-awareness-day/.

With your help we will carry on breaking the silence and shining a positive light on what has saved so many lives.

My View: By Connie Confer

Most of the nation is gearing up for Halloween, with all of its tricks and treats. But as a lesbian who wears an ostomy bag, this month also includes some more personal holidays worth celebrating, especially if we want people to feel more accepted and safe.

Did you know that Oct. 5 was Ostomy Awareness Day? Just like the more established National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), it brings an opportunity for people to celebrate their differences and their courage as they announce, perhaps with some trepidation, that they live with certain realities. They hope their family and friends will not shy away. They hope their bosses will not fire them.

That fear is completely rational. Just this week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases that could indeed decide whether someone can be fired for being gay or transgender. We will have to wait for months to hear their decision and how it will impact our laws. But in the meantime, I want to advocate for acceptance, not alienation. I want to argue that open communication creates community and reduces stigma for people in my own life circumstances.

Yes, it is tricky to navigate the reactions of the world, and it takes some courage. But the treat continues to be that we are not alone. The LGBTQ community is indeed a family, with gay pride parades in every major city, and support groups for people who want to come out to their friends or family, or for parents and other family members who want to support a gay or transgender young person navigate in an unfamiliar world.

Connie Confer, left, at the California General Assembly where she has been key to getting proclamations to recognize Ostomy Awareness Day.

Similarly, my local Southern California, Inland Empire Ostomy Association, offers support and practical advice for people who find themselves facing surgery for an ostomy pouch. As do over 300 other United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) affiliated support and Information groups nationwide.

No wonder people worry when they hear they will be among the 100,000 people in the United States who will get an ostomy this year. The treatment for diseases such as cancer or Crohn’s almost sounds worse than the disease. People wear a pouch attached to the abdomen that holds urine or feces that must be emptied and changed regularly. It can be embarrassing to talk about it, but just the same, we must.

That surgery is life-saving. I am living proof. And the routine of wearing the pouch seems quite easy and normal to me now. I find that I can talk about it with people close to me, and that I do not feel any stigma. For others who want to get to a place where an ostomy pouch feels routine, you should consider attending a UOAA affiliated support group near you.

There is no reason to suffer in silence and there is every reason to be fully and proudly yourself, no matter what your reality. And if you are not impacted by these specific things, make sure you are supportive to friends and family who are.

Life lived honestly can be a real treat.

Carolyn “Connie” Confer served as the assistant city attorney for Riverside, California and has advocated for the LGBTQ community for decades. She was there in September when Assemblyman Jose Medina declared Oct. 5 as Ostomy Awareness Day in California in honor of the work of the Inland Empire Ostomy Association.

“Funny how most people think an ostomy is the worst thing that could happen and I only see it as something that saved my life in so very many ways.”  Jeanne D. 

By Jeanine Gleba, Advocacy Manager

It’s such a simple truth – ostomies are life savers and yet, we continue to hear “I would rather die, then have an ostomy.”  That is why this year UOAA introduced the campaign “Operation Ostomy – A Life Saver”. Specifically, for Ostomy Awareness Day (OAD) held on October 5, 2019 the theme this year was fittingly “Ostomies Are Life-Savers”. It’s been exciting to see so many people embrace this theme from making custom life preservers to buying logo t-shirts for their entire families, to using #MyOstomyMyLifesaver to share their personal stories on social media, and educating others with this year’s infographic.

From Left, Gina Day, CWOCN and founder of the Ostomy Support Group of the Poconos and Advocacy Manager Jeanine Gleba pose with this year’s infographic banner at the East Stroudsburg, PA Run for Resilience on Ostomy Awareness Day.

For the second year in a row, our legislative champion was NJ Congressman Donald Payne as he introduced House Resolution 601 designating October 5th as National Ostomy Awareness Day. Furthermore, UOAA was honored to work with this year’s Ostomy Champion Grammy-Award winning recording artist Damon Little who has sung his way into our hearts by inviting all to celebrate and raise ostomy awareness in a video message.

UOAA had new ways to get involved with this special day including producing a new infographic that is available to download and print all year long at www.ostomy.org/ostomy-awareness-day/.   

This year for the first time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognized Ostomy Awareness Day in both their Medicare Learning Network and supplier newsletters. Also exciting was to have the support of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) as they had a schedule of social media posts such as this one:

In addition, in 2019 we invited other organizations to collaborate with UOAA and had the privilege to raise ostomy awareness and engage the ostomy community during special events with these partners.  In case you missed the events, we are pleased to inform you that you can still tune into them virtually:

  • UOAA co-hosted with the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) and Therezia Alchoufete, MS, RD, LDN to bring you a Twitter Chat on Nutritional Support for People Living with an Ostomy.  If you missed the live chat, you can read it all here.
  • UOAA partnered with the WOCN Society to promote and celebrate ostomy awareness day. Listen to UOAA Advocacy Chair Joanna Burgess-Stocks talk all things advocacy, ostomy awareness and so much more in this special WOCTalk podcast episode! 
  • UOAA had the pleasure of working with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to bring you a very special Facebook Live event with Double Baggin’ It. You can still watch it and learn so much from this inspiring duo and their healthy perspectives of having ostomy surgery!

Each year we expand our outreach with this annual event and here are a few statistics from 2019 activities:

  • Our Advocacy Network contacted legislators in 24 states requesting proclamations for Ostomy Awareness Day. The following proclamations were passed in these 11 places

            * State of California           * State of Colorado           * State of Connecticut

            * State of Massachusetts  * State of Missouri           * State of New Jersey       

            * State of Ohio                    * State of Pennsylvania   * State of South Carolina  

            * Frederick City, MD           * Kennebunk, ME

• 139,442 impressions from the Twitter Chat with a reach of 22,830.

• Over 200 personal #MyOstomyMyLifesaver stories shared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

• Over 900 people took part in eight Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k event locations and a Worldwide Virtual 5k. 125 volunteered to make these ostomy awareness events a huge success.

UOAA is most grateful to all in the ostomy community who partnered with us or promoted OAD in their corner of the United States.

We hope you’ll join us next year when the big day will be Saturday, October 3, 2020. It will be the 10th anniversary of celebrating National Ostomy Awareness Day!  So get ready for an even bigger celebration.

Although Ostomy Awareness Day has come and gone, its impact will continue to spread across the country with each and every one of us.  Look for more from UOAA for our new “Operation Ostomy – A Life-Saver” campaign to stop stigma and save more lives.

National Ostomy Awareness Day is celebrated this year in the US on Saturday, October 5, 2019. At Hollister Incorporated, we are proud to stand with the broader ostomy community to show how we are #AllinforOstomy. We invite everyone to join together in spreading awareness or engaging in activities that can impact the day-to-day lives of people living with ostomies and their caregivers.

Participate in a Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K Event!

For some, the best way to celebrate and support ostomy awareness is to get out and enjoy the day, even better to do so together with the people we care about. In that spirit, we celebrate Ostomy Awareness Day again this year by supporting United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) as the exclusive Diamond Sponsor of the annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events. The events help increase awareness about ostomy and continent diversion surgery and encourage positive dialogue. Bring family and friends with you to participate in one of these fun events nationwide. Many feature kids’ activities, a DJ, a division for people with ostomies, and awards. Visit ostomy5k.org to find a run near you. While you’re there, stop by the Hollister booth and say hello!

If you can’t make it to one of the live events, you can still participate by registering for a Virtual Walk, Run, or Roll at a location near you. Even a treadmill counts! This year Hollister Associates will participate in a virtual event near our Hollister Incorporated headquarters in Illinois, and at our distribution center in Stuarts Draft, Virginia.

Gearing up to participate in one of these events? Get in the mood with the All in for Ostomy playlist on Spotify.

Show off your Stoma Sticker on Ostomy Awareness Day or Any Day!

By wearing a “stoma” where people can see it, you can start a conversation, raise awareness, and show support for the ostomy community on Ostomy Awareness Day and every day. Place the sticker over your clothes on the lower right or left side between your navel and hip, where ostomies are typically located. Then, take a photo or video and share it on social media with the hashtags #AllinforOstomy and #OstomyAwareness. Because any day is a good day to support and celebrate ostomy awareness, Stoma Stickers are available for order year round! Visit stomasticker.com to order a free educational Stoma Sticker, shipped anywhere in the US.

Visit www.hollister.com/ostomyawareness to learn more!

 

Editor’s Note: this blog post was provided by Hollister Inc. the exclusive Diamond Sponsor of UOAA’s annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events that benefit UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Bring Ostomy Awareness to your Neighborhood with the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k

October 6 and 13, 2018

 

  1. Change a Life. The theme of World Ostomy Day on October 6, 2018 is “Speaking Out Changes Lives”. Speak out to smash stigmas and never let someone choose death over an ostomy ever again.
  2. Support the Dream of a Someone with an Ostomy. Some run for the first time, others walk to discover a new life after surgery. Donate to support a Run for Resilience location in your state, the worldwide Virtual 5k, or a participant fundraiser. If you or your support group start a fundraiser you can win prizes such as an exclusive Run for Resilience t-shirt, visor or group party. (Proceeds benefit the programs of UOAA)
  3. Have Fun and Get in Shape. All events are family-friendly and some feature special happening like a picnic (Arizona), giveaways, kids runs and activities, silent auction, free beer (Idaho),

    Photo by: Natalie Koziuk Photography (www.nkoziukphotography.com)

    food or other perks. Check a location near you for local details. Feel better and crush your weekly step goal by starting to train today.

  4. You Can Do it Anywhere with a Virtual 5k. Challenge yourself and show the world what people living with an ostomy are capable of. Be a visible presence and walk/run anywhere you’d like in your community. Represent the resilience of all ostomates. Take photos of you and your friends doing the 5k and inspire others on social media.
  5. Win an exclusive designer ostomy pouch cover. Legendary Nashville fashion designer Manny Cuevas (a proud ostomate and race organizer) is hand making a pouch cover and it can be yours by registering as an ostomate and placing in the top 3 at each location or by gathering one of the biggest groups of family or friends to walk or run with you for the Virtual 5k.
  6. Get a free Ostomy Awareness Sticker. Register for the Virtual Ostomy 5k or pick one up at any of our 9 locations. You’ll also get a free race bib!
  7. Get a World Ostomy Day T-Shirt and Represent the USA. Register by Sept. 17th to be guaranteed your preferred race t-shirt size. Run athletic shirts are included with all event locations ($15 for the Virtual 5k). It’s the official event of #OstomyDayUSA, tag on social media to share your photos.colostomy bag, run for resilience, ostomy pouch, stoma bag, ostomy 5k, run for resilience
  8. Discover a New Ostomy Supply or Resource. Stop by sponsor and ostomy supply company display tables, or chat with a UOAArepresentative at events across the country.
  9. Get Outside and Run in Scenic Locales. The first week in October is a beautiful time of year and runs take place among some breathtaking beauty. A historic trail in Durham, lakeside in Michigan and Arizona, riverside parks in New Jersey, Nashville, Portland, Pennsylvania and Boise, along tree-lined streets in Birmingham, or your favorite spot with the Virtual 5k.
  10. You can Go at Your Own Pace or Cheer from the Sidelines. People of all ages and athletic backgrounds take part in the Ostomy 5k. An ostomate typically wins one of the runs while in others they are among the final finishers. It’s all about what resilience means to you.

Register or donate today at www.ostomy5k.org!

By Jeanine Gleba, UOAA Advocacy Manager

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

It’s coming!  As I write this there are 50 days 9 hours and 41 minutes until World Ostomy Day on October 6, 2018!  (Current Countdown) Then you will have to wait another 3 years for the International Ostomy Association to sponsor it again.  UOAA is thrilled to join our national efforts with the rest of the world and we want ostomates across the country to join us from big cities to small town America to make this day a pretty big deal.

In both my professional and personal life as an “advocate” I know first-hand that the key to success for any advocacy cause is awareness. Simply put the more people talking about something the more attention it will attract (e.g., a video gone viral or hot issue on the political radar in the media). Unless you are personally affected not only do most people not even know what an ostomy is but they certainly don’t know how much this surgery can change lives for the better. A prime example of this is a person suffering for years with an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis who finally finds relief by having ostomy surgery. This is why it is crucial that we heighten consciousness around the globe to increase understanding of “ostomy”, remove feelings of embarrassment and eliminate fears so that ultimately when all other medical treatment options have failed more people will choose this surgery. Then more lives will be improved and saved.

I’m particularly excited this year’s theme is “Speaking Out Changes Lives”. What better way to raise awareness than to “speak out”?   What better way to improve lives and make concerns known such as when a person has received poor quality of care, than to “speak out?” What better way to advocate for a dedicated national day of ostomy awareness than to “speak out”?   

Do you know how to raise awareness? Think of the causes that you support. Look around you.  Everywhere you turn there are reminders of one cause or another keeping issues alive and on people’s minds (e.g., Breast cancer started out as a simple pink ribbon symbol in 1982 and has now turned into a global sensation with all of the pink anything and everything that is available for purchase to raise research funds. Not to mention all that is done during the month of October and all year long for breast cancer awareness).  There are many ways to raise awareness such as having a car bumper sticker or the widely popular Twibbons, but the best and simplest way is just….you got it…. “speaking out”. The growth of ostomy awareness is realized each time a person living with an ostomy shares his/her story. Each and every one of us has a powerful voice and together we can make a big impact.  Learn more ways to raise awareness in UOAA’s toolkit “Be an Ostomy Champion”.

Get Involved

Here’s some of the ways UOAA is raising awareness for World Ostomy Day: 

  • Expanding our annual family-friendly Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k events across the country now in nine states (AL, AZ, ID, MI, NC, NJ, OR, PA or TN) as well as well as a worldwide Virtual Run/Walk. Hundreds of people will attend these events and even more will witness the event as people run the course.
  • Promoting ostomy awareness year-round with a free “Ask Me: What is an Ostomy?” sticker for all those that register for the Virtual Run/Walk.  This sticker can be put on cars, laptop covers, water bottles or any where you want to raise awareness. Help UOAA teach the world what an ostomy is!  
  • Encouraging more people to use our sample proclamation to get one passed in towns, counties and states across the country officially declaring Ostomy Awareness Day. In addition, NJ Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. has agreed to be the Primary Sponsor of a Congressional Resolution nationally recognizing Ostomy Awareness Day for the first-time ever!
  • Sharing our special logo for World Ostomy Day and the use of dedicated hashtags for social media recognition: #WorldOstomyDay2018 and #OstomyDayUSA.
  • Coordinating our very own 1st Annual Virtual Day on the Hill competition to raise ostomy awareness with lawmakers!
  • Producing a very motivating “Speak Out” Campaign call to action video!

Please keep visiting our dedicated and frequently updated webpage to find more ways you can get involved in the celebration this year!  And make a mental note to yourself that it doesn’t end on October 6th. Awareness can happen every day. We’re counting on to you to make it happen.

Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k Expands its Reach

By Ed Pfueller, UOAA

The cause of ostomy awareness was visible on streets and trails all over the country for two Saturdays last October. People embracing life again after ostomy surgery, people still struggling with recent hospital stays, nurses, family, friends, returning participants, and local runners, were all represented. Supporters cheered as 616 people ran, walked or rolled in this year’s Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k. On Oct. 7th (Ostomy Awareness Day) and 14th, communities in Alabama, Arizona, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Tennessee celebrated the resilience of people living with an ostomy or continent diversion by raising ostomy awareness. Another 139 runners nationwide opted to run/walk “virtually” in their own communities.

The Boise Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k is a family friendly event raising ostomy awareness. Photo by: Natalie Koziuk Photography (www.nkoziukphotography.com)

Passionate local organizers, over 50 volunteers, and local and national sponsors made this year’s events possible. UOAA provided logistical support and the proceeds the non-profit organization’s national education, advocacy and support programs.

Event locations expanded again last year adding venues in Mesa/Phoenix Arizona and Cookeville, Tennessee. Located about an hour east of Nashville the Tennessee event took place on the historic streets of the Downtown, Cookeville. Runners trotted under magnolia trees and along the historic main street of town before heading to the finish. Water was handed to them by representatives from Hollister, the Platinum sponsor for the year’s events who also hosted games of corn hole outside their sponsor tent. Nashville fashion designer Manny Cuevas, known for dressing some of the biggest stars in the music industry, was inspired to run due to his own personal journey with an ostomy. He was cheered on by family and friends and accompanied on the course by a daughter. Local organizer Deborah Nelson felt particularly blessed to have Manny there because of his resilience in light of medical setbacks, and also his advocacy. “He went to the state of Tennessee to get a proclamation enacted for the state to adopt this ostomy awareness day. Not only is he an advocate for nurses and other ostomates, but he is an awesome representative,” she said while awarding him the medal in the ostomate category of the run/walk.

Manny Cuevas after the Cookeville, TN Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k

In Arizona, the first-year event had a festive atmosphere. A picnic and music inside a ramada shelter welcomed competitors returning from a stroll along the lakes in Mesa’s Red Mountain Park. Local organizer Roxanne Camp who is a double ostomate was all smiles at the event despite being discharged from the hospital just a few days earlier. Her resilience is a testament to what the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k is really all about.

The largest event this year was again the founding 5k in Durham, North Carolina. Though the majority of the 164 runners did not have an ostomy, ostomate Collin Jarvis repeated as the overall winner. First-time participant Molly Atwater was easy to spot as she was supported by family wearing “Molly Olly Ostomy” t-shirts. “As a brand-new ostomate, the Run for Resilience was a mountaintop experience for me. To attend an event where I was surrounded by people who knew what an ostomy was – either having an ostomy themselves, supporting a loved one with an ostomy, or working as an ostomy nurse – reminded me that I belong to such a strong and supportive community. I talked with many people over the course of the run and shared my experience in my short three months as an ostomate, learning tips and tricks for dealing with daily struggles. The coolest part of the entire event was looking around and not knowing who had an ostomy and who didn’t. And with it being a 5K, that drove home the idea that there is nothing an ostomate can’t do. I walked the race this year, but I am determined to run the whole thing next year. It’s an event that I would never miss in the future.”

The event drew runners from hundreds of miles away and again took place on the scenic American Tobacco trail and featured a popular silent auction and sponsor tents. The always popular stroller division again made this truly a family affair.

A family atmosphere was also central to the 2nd annual Ostomy 5k in Boise, Idaho. Despite frigid temperatures, 151 runners suited up for the event. Children could be seen tossing golden leaves into the air as runners passed by. They got their own chance to run in a 1-mile kids fun run.
Runners in Portland, Oregon also braved the cold to run along the Milwaukie Riverfront Park in what was the third year for the event. The event also returned to Birmingham, Alabama where the weather was much more pleasant. The Birmingham Area WOC Nurses’ Association again generously agreed to host the event. This year it was moved George Ward Park in Birmingham.

You did not have to go to any of these locations to take part in a run however. Our virtual run simply means you can walk/run in any location of your choice. You can gather with a support group, friends or family. Participants walked/ran in locations from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Nova Scotia, or even on their own treadmill. Each participant got their own race bib number and t-shirt to recognize the awareness day.

Some virtual gatherings took on a life of their own. In Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania the mayor came out to cut a ribbon and walk at an event that attracted over 50 people. Enthusiasm for the walk was generated by organizer and ostomy nurse Gina Day had recently started the first UOAA support group in the area. “The outreach I received was priceless. I met some amazing people along the way, and appreciate all the donations I received to help bring awareness to the forefront! I realized how many lives I touched, when they all showed up and walked right next to me. I can not thank UOAA enough for their guidance and support to make this event possible for our ostomates in the Pocono region!  I look forward to next year where I can provide an official 5k walk/run for ostomy awareness in our community.”

“The local organizers really are the heart and soul of what makes this event so special, and I can’t thank them enough,” says UOAA Executive Director Christine Ryan. “Our dedicated sponsors enable us to bring the ostomy awareness event to communities across the country.”

UOAA hopes to see the Ostomy 5k grow even bigger and reach more people in 2018 when the event will coincide with World Ostomy Day on Saturday, October 6th. Tentative run/walks will be held in Nashville, Southern New Jersey and Harrison Twp. Michigan . Visit www.ostomy5k.org  or follow us on Facebook for the latest 2018 event information. To be a national or local sponsor, start a fundraiser, or inquire about organizing an event in your community, contact Christine Ryan at christine.ryan@ostomy.org or 207-985-9700. A heartfelt thank you to the following 2017 National Sponsors. Platinum- Hollister, Silver- Coloplast and Bronze- Convatec, Safe n Simple, and Hy-Tape.

Stephanie shown here with the proclamations she had declared for Ostomy Awareness Day in 2016. (Left side proclamation is from Governor Chris Christie for the State of New Jersey; Right proclamation is from the NJ Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders)

Stephanie shown here with the proclamations she had declared for Ostomy Awareness Day in 2016. (Left side proclamation is from Governor Chris Christie for the State of New Jersey; Right proclamation is from the NJ Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders)[/caption]

In 2003, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I remember telling my family that if I ever had to “poop in a bag” to just kill me. But in 2009, at the age of 35, what 29 year old me would have thought to be a worst nightmare ended up being the thing that saved my life.

In November of 2009, a complication of Crohn’s Disease, Toxic MegaColon, almost took my life. Without surgery, there was a 100% chance I would die. With surgery there was still only a 20% chance I’d survive, but at least there was a chance, so a subtotal colectomy with ileostomy was performed, and 4 days later, I was brought out of a coma.

So grateful to be alive, it was then that I realized that “pooping in a bag” was not what I once thought it was. In fact, having an ostomy was life saving! But the thoughts I had regarding ostomies are not mine alone. For too long, there has been a stigma and much misinformation surrounding ostomies and ostomy surgery.

Because of this, some have chosen suffering and death instead of an ostomy and life. Therefore, raising ostomy awareness is important to me because LIFE is important to me. I want people to know that having an ostomy is just another way to live life to the fullest.

My favorite saying regarding an Ostomy/Stoma is this: You can make it your friend or you can make it your enemy. If you make it your enemy you will have a hard time surviving. But if you make it your friend, not only can you survive, you can thrive.

Love your Ostomy and embrace life!

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