"They told me I probably shouldn't run. I had started to train in June, and stopped, but I did it anyway," Dean Young, 55, Brazil, recently told The Brazil Times. "It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. You get to a point where your body stops working. It just quits, but that's when you push your way through and keep going."
Diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at 18-years-old, Young, who placed 16,067 out of 30,000 runners, said he ran the 13.1-mile race in three hours and 24 minutes for those who couldn't.
"There is information out there that 150,000 babies were diagnosed last year with Crohn's. It's too late, (the medical profession) can't help me now," Young said. "But we have to do something for those children because they can't tell you what is wrong or that they hurt."
According to information provided by the CCFA, Crohn's Disease is an ongoing disorder that causes painful inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon.
"Doctors have known about Crohn's for 70 years, but they don't know how to cure it, and treatment is difficult because each diagnosed case needs individual treatment," Young said. "Having Crohn's is extremely painful and it affects every aspect of your life."
Young said he wouldn't have been able to participate without the help and support of his family and friends.
"I appreciate the support of my family, they're with me through it all," Young said. "My daughter Deana learned about the event, and her and my other daughter (Mandy Dees) were supposed to run the race with me, but Deana was unable to. My wife Lynn and my sister and her husband, Molly and Gary McKenzie, went with us to Las Vegas."
According to Young, Mandy ran the race in three hours and 57 minutes, placing 17,552.
A fish-fry fundraiser is also in the works for the summer of 2010. For more information, contact Young at 448-8748.
"We have a lot of people interested in helping, but we can always use more," Young said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Although he has had two surgeries to remove scar tissue inside his small intestines and is taking medication, Young hasn't spoken about his illness very often.
"I've had friends who don't know I have Crohn's. They knew something was wrong, but I didn't talk about it," Young said. "Most people who are suffering a flare up can't get out of bed because of the pain. I understand that pain."
However, retirement has allowed Young, who never thought about being a runner, to do new things.
"I can't let this disease beat me, I've got to keep going. Talking about Crohn's is important," Young said. "There are a lot of things that we can do to help others. I ran the first eight miles of that race and the last part I could barely go, but I'm doing it again to bring about awareness. In this life you can't quit or give up, you've got to keep going."
In the story "Courageous Defiance," published in Saturday, Jan. 2 edition of The Brazil Times, proceeds from the fish fry planned for the summer of 2010 will be donated to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation (CCFA) of America. The Young family will be paying their own expenses to participate in the 2010 Rock 'N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on Dec. 5, 2010.