Welcome to The Cycling Semicolons’ blog! From March 20 – mid May, we will be pedaling across the southern tier of the United States for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, and ostomy awareness. This is day 1 of the blogging, though it’s not day 1 of the journey. The journey started months ago.
We are The Cycling Semicolons – Todd Colitti and Jay Pacitti. Why Cycling Semicolons, you ask? As we began our planning discussions, we tried to brainstorm some names, either for our ride or for ourselves. Todd really liked the idea that we are both “Semicolons” - - he has had part of his colon removed, and Jay has had part of his colon as well as part of his small intestine resected. Jay, being all about the alliteration, thought that “Cycling” in front of semicolons was aptly descriptive, and so the name was born.
We are thus two Semicolons riding for everyone and anyone who is intestinally-challenged - - whether or not you have had surgery, whether you have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, or an ostomy- - we are riding for YOU. Even if you have another intestinal disease that is not in the category of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s & colitis) or CRC, but your intestinal disease is one that society deems “unmentionable” or not all that serious, yes: we are riding for you too.
We are riding to shed light on conditions that people don’t want to talk about. We are riding to end the silence surrounding these “bathroom diseases.” We are riding to help people understand that just because they have not heard of these diseases does not mean that they are not incredibly debilitating and sometimes life-threatening.
We are riding to let everyone with intestinal diseases know that you do NOT need to live in silence.
And, even though neither of us has an ostomy at this point in his life, we are riding to make sure that the world knows that the words “ostomy,” “ileostomy,” and “colostomy” are not slurs, are not derogatory jokes, are not somehow ugly and bad, but rather are words that describe life-saving surgical procedures that allow people to live full, healthy, and active lives.
In addition to our awareness-raising efforts, we are also riding to spotlight HOPE. We will each talk more about this in our individual blogs, as our stories are very different. Todd, as a 10-year colorectal cancer survivor, knows all about hope - - and how it kept him alive. Jay, as someone who has been living with Crohn’s for 10 years and who has been active in the IBD community for most of those years, understands what it is like to have a disease that people do not take seriously and knows how crushing to one’s health and spirit it can be when serious chronic conditions are downplayed.
Both Jay and Todd want to spread awareness of the importance of community and empowerment in battling cancer and in living with serious chronic illnesses, and in particular, they want to spotlight Get Your Guts in Gear, Inc. and The Colon Club. You can read more about these organizations at our website and theirs (see www.wegotguts.com for more information and for links to both organizations.)
In addition to awareness, we have set our sights on raising funds for these organizations. A lot of funds. $50,000 worth of funds. Thanks to SHIRE and HOLLISTER, INCORPORATED, we have corporate sponsor funding in addition to personal funds that will cover ALL of our excursion costs. All of the funds that are raised from public donations (minus transaction processing fees that the banks charge and which we cannot avoid) will support Get Your Guts in Gear’s and The Colon Club’s programs. Not a single penny of public donations will feed or house us.
We hope that you will join in our ride by following our progress. As we pedal cross-country - - carrying all of our gear - - we hope to share some great stories with you, we hope to give you some laughs, we really hope that we will safely cover the 3,092 (or so) miles across the southern United States.
Mostly, we hope to inspire you to GET INVOLVED in what The Colon Club and Get Your Guts in Gear have to offer, to learn about the power of community, and to learn that hope is a powerful element on the road to living a healthy life - - with or without life-threatening and debilitating disease.
Come along for the ride – we are looking forward to having you with us as we blog and tweet the details!
And so it begins . . . .