When you meet 8-year-old Gavin Shreeve, the energy and light in his eyes are inescapable. As a third grade student at FishHawk Creek Elementary, he loves building Legos, playing golf and anything Disney. It is difficult to imagine him in a hospital bed where he receives periodic four-hour infusions to combat severe Crohn’s disease.
His mother, Christina Shreeve, left her 10-year career as an elementary teacher to manage Gavin’s healthcare.
“Gavin was sick on and off since he was a baby. We didn’t know what was going on. Crohn’s disease presents as more of arthritis, fevers and rashes when you’re really young. It doesn’t present like other IBD diseases.”
Many think Crohn’s disease is based on diet, and although some patients are triggered by certain foods, it is much more than that. For Gavin, it is a genetic condition. He and his mom know a cure is out there in the future, and they are doing what they can to help in the present.
“The research is so very important to help doctors better understand the illness and find a cure. Basically, his only treatment is to be on Remicade, which is a chemotherapy drug.”
This requires frequent long stints in the hospital where he receives intravenous infusions that may alleviate Crohn’s, but come with unpleasant side effects. They have a path to manage Gavin’s illness, but they are doing what they can to ensure there will be a day when he and so many others will not need immunosuppressants and other drugs.
This is their third year raising money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation through the local chapter’s Take Steps program. Gavin and his family are so thankful for the amazing local businesses that donate every year so they can coordinate a virtual silent auction on World IBD Day, held on May 19. They started with a goal of $7,000, but they smashed past it.
This year, Gavin and his family raised just over $12,000 for research, education programs, support programs and community awareness and advocacy. Also, their team ranks 33 in the nation in donations raised for this year among hundreds of teams nationwide. The foundation named Gavin the Youth Honored Hero in 2019 and 2020 for his efforts.
As the Youth Honored Hero, Gavin speaks at black tie events with hundreds of people present. In addition to his family’s personal fundraising, these events have also raised thousands of dollars for research and community outreach. He will even be a part of the foundation’s international efforts in the coming year.
When asked if he was nervous to speak in front of all those people, he grinned widely and shook his head, saying, “Not at all.”
Despite COVID-19, the virtual events have still taken place, and although he was a little sad to miss the annual walk at Al Lopez Park, it did not dampen their spirits.
In addition to the work they do with Take Steps, Christina is also the Family Advisory Council chair for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She and Gavin are working to collect new toys for the patients at the hospital.
The most requested toys are Legos for boys and girls of all ages, Play-Doh, Ryan’s World Molecules and pretend doctor kits for little kids. She and Gavin will gladly deliver any donated toys.
If you are an individual or a business interested in donating items or money to fund the Shreeves’ silent auctions, virtual raffles, bunco nights and other events or in donating toys for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, email Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and to connect with other families, visit www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/.