Chance Busey will be putting his sailing skills to the test next month when he sets sail to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The 17-year-old, who has been sailing for almost his entire life, is on a quest to raise money for the local chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) in Bellevue as part of his "Crossing for Crohn’s and Colitis" project.
The senior at Gig Harbor High School was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in September 2007 when he was just 13 years old.
According to Busey, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect about 1.4 million Americans. These Inflammatory Bowel Diseases cause one's bowels to be inflamed. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are different in that Crohn’s disease is where the entire colon is inflamed and ulcerative colitis only has a specific area in which the colon is inflamed.
"I didn’t let my disease control me. I had some embarrassing moments in class that year," he said. "But I grew past it."
After experiencing several flare-ups at school and on the baseball field, Busey said he's been in remission for about two years.
Even though there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis, according to MayoClinic.org, and Busey will most likely be on medication for the rest of his life, he said he's fortunate to have regained control of the disease and live a normal life today.
Now, in an effort to help others deal with the disease, Busey hopes to raise $10,000 for the CCFA. The foundation is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to finding the cure for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
"I am lucky. Most ulcerative colitis patients are dealing with much more severe symptoms than mine ever were," he said.
On the weekend of March 23-25, Busey will be sailing 22 miles across the open waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in his one-man 12-foot boat.
Despite harsh conditions expected at sea, Busey said the intense challenge is worth it for the cause.
"I know a few people in the community and the high school, my age--maybe even younger--that have either Crohn's or colitis, and they feel a little better about this now that I'm doing something for that. And I just hope I can inspire other people."
Busey said he's raised about $2,000 so far. If you would like to sponsor or donate to the cause, click here for more information. You can also check out its Facebook page. The CCFA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. All donations to the CCFA are tax deductible.