Gavin Shreeve, an 11-year-old Lithia resident, recently received a special award. He has been battling Crohn’s disease since age 5, and from then on, as he struggled with it, he has strived to fight against IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and find a cure. Gavin’s inspiring story earned him over 600 votes throughout the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s It Takes Guts competition, resulting in him becoming the first-ever winner of the It Takes Guts Award.
“Basically, it’s an advocacy award honoring patients who are helping to make IBD visible. … It’s an ‘invisible’ disease in that it can be scary for people to talk about. Nobody wants to talk about it,” said Christina Shreeve, Gavin’s mom. “So, [the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s] catchphrase is like, ‘Let’s make IBD visible,’ and so the advocacy award is for patients who are … helping to end the stigma of embarrassment around the disease and just helping to bring awareness to the disease and working toward finding a cure.”
IBD — which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — is a serious disease that impacts nearly one in 100 Americans. During Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, the foundation invited nominations for IBD warriors, caregivers and health care heroes to raise public understanding of IBD and honor those spreading awareness.
Gavin’s journey of advocacy began with his first IBD fundraising event at 6 years old. By age 7, he became a guest speaker at multiple events for his local chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, including Tampa’s Toast for a Cure and Orlando’s A Night of Hope Gala, and later on became featured on local news broadcasts passionately advocating for a cure. Gavin has raised over $70,000 for IBD so far through his Take Steps team, Braver Than Most.
His resilience, dedication and selflessness make him an exceptional advocate for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. With all his passion and efforts in raising awareness and funds for pediatric IBD patients, it’s little wonder that Gavin had received so many votes in the competition.
“He was excited. … It’s nice to know your efforts are recognized,” said Christina.
“So many children get diagnosed, and they’re scared. They don’t know what to expect,” she added. “It’s really important for other children to speak up about it and to make this a safe thing to talk about, especially when they get into their college years and young adult years.”
For more information, visit www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org. To make a donation to Gavin’s team, visit https://takesteps.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.team&teamid=9150.