Woman Inspires Connecticut Shoreline Residents To Take Steps To Fight Digestive Diseases

Clubs and Organizations

August 30, 2014

Madison, CT -- Bergantino of Branford, Connecticut is inspiring people along the Connecticut shoreline to participate in the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's Take Steps Walk at Hammonasset State Park in Madison.

Pamela is living with Crohn's disease. Along with ulcerative colitis, these diseases are painful, debilitating digestive diseases impacting over 1.4 million American adults and children, with as many as 150,000 under the age of 18 including more than 16,500 individuals in Connecticut.

Pamela spent four years contending with a diagnosis of reactive arthritis.  Bergantino states, "It started in the summer of 2007. I had just graduated college, broken up with my boyfriend of a few years and I had no prospects for a full time job. When my stomach starting acting up, I associated it with stress, ironically arthritis symptoms came to the forefront as the stomach symptoms subsided. At the age of 22, I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis. Over the next four years I would try a series of medications, all not working for much longer than the last. There were days when I would wake up with so much swelling I had to use the wall to walk."

In the fall of 2011 Bergantino started experiencing stomach symptoms again which led to significant weight loss. She was scheduled for her first colonoscopy in December 2011 and was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. "The doctor said my intestines looked horrible, and she was surprised I wasn't in more pain. She promised me I would soon feel better.  Since both arthritis and Crohn's disease are treated with similar anti-inflammatory medicines, I had already ruled out several medications that I could not go back and try again. I was set to start Remicade infusions in January.  I was shocked when 24 hours after my first infusion I started feeling better. I had finally found the correct diagnosis and the correct medication," states Bergantino.

Soon after her diagnosis, Bergantino became an active volunteer with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).  She participated in two half marathons as a member of Team Challenge, running in Las Vegas and Chicago.  Joint pain stopped her from completing her third half marathon and she switched her focus to the local Take Steps Walk.  She created a team, The Unforgetabowels, and they raised $1,305 last year.  This year their goal is to raise over $2,000.  All told, Bergantino has raised over $12,000 for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation since she began volunteering in 2012.  Bergantino and The Unforgetabowels will be hosting a Dinner for a Cure fundraiser on Sunday, September 14 at Assaggio Restaurant in Branford.  Tickets are $75 ($100 at the door) and include a three-course meal, drinks created by The Cocktail Chemists, and music by Bob Frank & Friends. To purchase tickets, call 203-848-8817. If you are not able to attend the Dinner for a Cure event but would like to support Pamela Bergantino and The Unforgetabowels you can donate at their Take Steps webpage, http://online.ccfa.org/goto/TheUnforgetabowels

Bergantino invites community members to join her at this year's Take Steps Walk, "Every day we fight to find a cure for every patient that suffers and for every family that worries.  But we don't fight alone.  Through the CCFA, we are not just huge network of support but also an extended family.  With the support and donations to Take Steps, we spread awareness and we hope to find a cure. I am excited to walk again this year. It is great to meet others who relate to what I am going through.  I hope that as Honored Hero, I can inspire others as well."

Thousands of people will gather this fall at nearly 70 walk sites across the country to join the fight against Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The walks are family friendly festivals with activities for everyone including bands, games, activities, food and a leisurely walk through a park or community.  Take Steps has raised over $40 million for research and patient support services and is committed to transforming the lives of those impacted by these diseases and leading them to a brighter future through well-funded, cutting-edge scientific research.

Date and Time: Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

Location: Hammonasset State Park in Madison.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.

For more information on how to get involved with Take Steps and to find a 2014 spring walk site nearest you, please visit www.cctakesteps.org or contact Mary Kate Doherty at 203-376-4336 or mkdoherty@ccfa.org.