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Field's fight to end Crohn's and colitis

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June 1, 2017

Fourth-year student Zachary Field is taking part in a July 8 triathlon in Clermont, Florida, to raise money for Crohn’s disease and colitis research. Field joined forces with Team Challenge, a fundraising division of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, in hopes of reaching his goal of $2,900.

The Melbourne, Florida, native is no stranger to triathlons or Crohn’s disease – a condition he was diagnosed with in 2013. Field’s diagnosis was pivotal in pushing him to apply to medical school just one year later.

“That office visit demonstrated to me the power and efficacy of medicine and the incredible responsibility that comes along with wearing a white coat,” he said. “I wanted to learn everything about Crohn’s and maybe even provide some relief for others going through something similar.”

An estimated 1.6 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease – including Crohn’s disease and colitis, for which there is no known cure.

“I’ve had a lot of exposure to Crohn’s disease both as a health-care provider and as a patient,” said Field, a student at the Orlando Regional Campus. “Crohn’s was a big part of the reason why I wanted to go into medicine, and it’s definitely why I want to go into gastroenterology.”

The triathlon is not Field’s first effort to expand medical knowledge about the disease. Throughout medical school he has studied colitis-associated carcinoma, and he spent a summer at Vanderbilt University conducting research.

“In many ways, having Crohn’s disease has been a blessing in disguise,” he said. “It has propelled me into the field of gastroenterology and has fueled my curiosity to explore unanswered questions.”

Field will join a group of over 17,000 people who have participated in races for Team Challenge to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s disease and colitis. To date, Team Challenge participants have raised $71 million to fund research efforts.

The July 8 triathlon is part of the Clermont Sprint Triathlon Series. The race is set to begin at 7:20 a.m. and will consist of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run.

“We have made a lot of progress in the fight against Crohn’s disease, but there is still much more work to be done,” he said. “Finding a cure is going to take a collaborative effort among doctors, patients and researchers. No matter how incrementally small it may be, I hope to do my part to get us one step closer to finding a cure.”

Get more information on the triathlon and Team Challenge or to donate to Field’s fight to end Crohn’s and colitis.