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Honored Hero Austin Kerr taking steps to find cures for digestive diseases

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Issue 35, Volume 17.

TEMECULA – Fifteen-year-old Austin Kerr was diagnosed two years ago with Crohn’s Disease. Now, he is walking with his family and friends in order to raise funds and awareness for this debilitating digestive disease.

On Sept. 29, Austin will be taking steps and breaking his silence at Bel Vino Winery in Temecula in order for a cure to be found.

"Austin is a great inspiration to the Crohn’s & colitis community," said Amy Payonk. "Surprisingly, these diseases are not very well known, yet they take a tremendous toll on people’s lives."

Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affects 1 in 200 people. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn’s disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery. Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35; however the incidence is increasing in children.

Austin was selected as the Honored Hero for this year’s Take Steps Walk because he truly exemplifies courage, commitment, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Austin knows the struggles and challenges of living with a debilitating, unpredictable digestive disease every day. But that has not stopped him from keeping a positive outlook and persevering in his life and in pursuit of his goals. He is an inspiration to other patients who struggle to come to terms with their disease and a role model for anyone looking to make a difference in the journey to cure digestive diseases.

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John J. Hong, MD, will serve as the Greater San Diego and Desert Area Corporate Revenue Chair for the walk.

"We are delighted to have Dr. John Hong’s leadership this year to help generate new revenue. Our goal is to raise to $30,000," said Amy Payonk. "We need leaders in the Temecula community to help raise more money and the profile for these diseases that are often overlooked."

Take Steps is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s national walk program to raise money for critical research and awareness about these painful and unpredictable digestive diseases. Thousands of people will gather this year with walk seasons scheduled for spring and fall at 158 walk sites across the country to join the fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The walks are family friendly festivals with activities for everyone including bands, games, activities, food and a leisurely walk through a park or community. Take Steps has raised over $40 million for research and patient support services and is committed to transforming the lives of those impacted by these diseases and leading them to a brighter future through well-funded, cutting-edge scientific research.

"I am happy to lead Temecula’s effort this year on behalf of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation," said Dr. John Hong. "This is my opportunity to help change the lives of others by raising awareness and money to help fund critical research for cures. A future free from digestive diseases is within reach and every single person can make a difference."

For more information about becoming involved in Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis, visit or contact Amy Payonk at (619) 497-1300 ext. 4 or



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