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Health & Wellness
IBD Icons – Casey Abrams Inspires Others to Live Beyond Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

From:  Linda Davis and Megan Farina, Communications, Janssen Biotech and Casey Abrams, musician

Imagine being told, in your first year of college, you have a chronic disease and there is no cure.  Now, add painful and embarrassing symptoms that keep you from participating in activities that you once loved and potentially changing how you live your life .

Welcome to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD  includes the unpredictable digestive diseases ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease and impacts 1.4 million Americans, most diagnosed between 15 and 30 years of age.

Due to the nature of both UC and Crohn’s, some patients are reluctant to seek a doctor’s advice and rely on finding information on-line and connecting with others through social media.  So, how do we raise awareness of these often misunderstood diseases and inspire people who suffer to seek support?

In 2011, Season 10 American Idol finalist Casey Abrams attracted headlines when he was hospitalized during the competition due to his UC.  Despite these health challenges, Casey was one of 11 finalists to earn a coveted spot on the 2011 Idol Live summer concert tour.

Partnering with Casey and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), we launched the IBD Icons disease awareness campaign – centered around a national search to identify “IBD Icons” who submitted their personal stories of achievement, like Casey’s.  We attended local events where Casey spoke about his experience with UC and living beyond the disease.  Casey’s endearing quality and message of hope touched every person he met – never just en masse, but always insistent on shaking every single person’s hand (or usually asking for a hug) and listening to his/her own personal story.  Due to the tremendous response to the Icons program in 2011, Casey shaved his signature beard in a You Tube video which went viral to continue the awareness momentum into this year.

A true believer in the cause , Casey  has taken his spokesperson role seriously in order to reach as many IBD patients as possible with a message of hope and inspiration. It has been a pleasure to work with Casey – he truly is THE IBD Icon - an inspiration to those with IBD who pursue their dreams despite their disease.   For this year’s IBD Icons program, this very special musician wrote an original IBD-inspired song and music video.

Check out a special message about this year’s program from Casey below.

Hey guys, Casey Abrams here.  I partnered again this year with Janssen Biotech and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) to bring greater awareness to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) through IBD Icons.  I wanted to tell you about a new song and music video I created for Icons called “Chip on Your Shoulder”.  I wrote the song based on my own experience with ulcerative colitis and through the many inspirational stories I heard through the Icons program.  To see the music video, go to our IBD Icons website and become a fan.  You’ll get an email back that will give you a link to watch it.  For every fan, Janssen Biotech will donate $1 to the CCFA – up to $10,000!  That’s pretty cool.   So join the cause and check out our video.  Hope you like it!     -- Casey