Not only are Megan and Andrea great people, but they've found a wonderful way to utilize their creativity to become a recognizable brand. The conversations that have started because of their products, leads towards raising awareness and acceptance. They truly care about people in the IBD community, as well as giving back.
Megan and Andrea are amazing. They have started conversations for the IBD and non-IBD community to have. They have made digestive diseases empowering allowing all voices to be heard. The GBM has been a huge asset to me during times of hardship with IBD. The GBM including Megan and Andrea have inspired me to become more involved in the IBD community. They have taught me the importance of telling one's story to let others know that they are no alone. Recently becoming a blogger for the GBM, I have learned how much of an impact sharing one's story can be. The GBM is an amazing organization that has allowed people with IBD to speak about their disease in a fun and empowering way.
I first met Megan and Andrea (founders of The Great Bowel Movement) at Camp Oasis, a week-long summer camp for kids with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It's a great program that allows kids to experience a level of normalcy and acceptance that can be hard to find in their daily lives. Megan and Andrea were two of the most welcoming counselors there. They made campers and staff alike feel comfortable talking about the disease we all shared. I quickly learned of the work they'd been doing with their organization, The Great Bowel Movement. My week working alongside them left me in awe! Despite suffering from IBD themselves, they were so giving of their time and energy to help others.
After camp ended, I was inspired by Megan and Andrea to get more involved in the IBD community. I started taking part in discussions on a number of online forums; most notably, The Great Bowel Movement's. I found Megan and Andrea to be great at facilitating open dialogue among the IBD community. I'd been living with severe IBD for over 20 years, and I'd never met anyone that could make people so comfortable with talking about their disease like the two of them. One of their slogans is "making Crohn's and Colitis cool since 2010", and they definitely live up to it. If you read their forum, you will find people who are proud to talk about their condition; people who used to be ashamed by it. With my participation in their forum, I started feeling more hopeful about not only my own future, but the future of everyone living with this disease.
Several weeks after camp, Megan suggested I join her and Andrea in the annual Midwest IBD Ride (a fund/awareness-raiser and bicycle ride). It was short notice; I would only have two weeks to raise funds and prepare myself for the ride. I was doubtful, but Megan was very encouraging so I signed up. Megan and Andrea's friends and family came out to support me both financially and emotionally. With their help, I was able to raise $1490 for IBD Research and Advocacy groups! I then rode 150 miles alongside Megan and others living with IBD. It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about myself and how good it feels to be supported by a community of people that understand what I'm going through.
After the IBD Ride, I continued to participate in The Great Bowel Movement's online discussions- answering questions and giving advice when I could. Eventually, with my involvement becoming a regular thing, Megan and Andrea asked me to join their organization! I can't fully describe what an honor it is for me to be a part of such a wonderful cause! It has been a really pivotal year for me, and I've grown so much as a person because of my relationship with The Great Bowel Movement. I've gained a new perspective on my experience growing up severely ill, and I see now the good I can do for others because of it. It's given me the strength to reach out to more people living with IBD, especially kids. This summer, I'm volunteering at two different chapters of Camp Oasis (Wisconsin and Michigan). I will be able to show even more kids that they can lead a wonderful life even though they have a serious illness.
Megan and Andrea are a big inspiration to me and many others. They not only raise awareness of IBD, they also educate the public. They have given people from all walks of life a place to turn for guidance and hope when the burden of this disease is too much to bare alone. They have made an often embarrassing and scary illness into something to be proud of! They've shown so many of us the strength we all have when we share our illness with each other.
They have helped so many people through The Great Bowel Movement, even while working full time jobs, without asking for anything in return. I hope Megan and Andrea can continue to reach all their goals, because I believe we are only beginning to see the greatness they are capable of.
I've struggled with serious self-confidence issues throughout the course of my journey with Crohn's disease and now a permanent ostomy, but eventually I realized that my struggle with IBD should not involve feelings of shame every time the topic arises in conversation. My Great Bowel Movement clothing allows me to connect with fellow IBD patients as well as people who have questions about IBD, and the organization's contributions to online communities consistently make me smile. Their humor is delightful, because while they understand the severity of the diseases they represent, they can find a way to make light of issues that many of us find all too familiar. Their commitment to spreading good information and promoting reliable resources is sorely needed for all the IBD people out there desperately searching for useful answers to the questions we all have about coping with our chronic health conditions. Using clothing, fun accessories, and regular contributions to online communities, GBM sparks conversations and creates bonds that help us reclaim our dignity, stand up for each other, and show the world that we are awesome.