LIVONIA, LA (WAFB) - I learned something recently. People with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis often feel shunned by others. I learned something else recently. People with Ulcerative Colitis are in constant pain and live with chronic bowl issues making living a normal life nearly impossible in some cases.
Ulcerative Colitis, often referred to as U.C., is a chronic disease of the large intestine in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed with tiny open sores, or ulcers. This results in serious abdominal discomfort and the need to go to the bathroom often, and sometimes urgently with little notice.
U.C. is the result of an abnormal response by the body's immune system causing it to mistake good things in the colon, like healthy bacteria and food, for foreign invading substances. Therefore, the immune system erroneously sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines where they produce the chronic inflammation and ulcers.
U.C. is different from Crohn's because Crohn's can affect any part of the G.I. tract, but U.C. affects only the lining of the colon.
There is no cure. The best hope for patients is management of their condition through medication and lifestyle.
At times, U.C. is almost intolerable for an adult, much less a child. Maddie Plauche,11, suffers from Ulcerative Colitis.
"I try to hide my pain so nobody knows because if you show them, they don't want to be around you," Maddie said.
Wow. And since one out of 10 patients with U.C. are under 18 years old, there are many children just like Maddie who feel they cannot talk to anyone about their "illness."
Elain Ellerbe told Hand It On about Maddie Plauche, a fifth grader at Valverda Elementary School in Livonia. You see Maddie wanted to bring awareness to her illness so that she and others would be understood and would not be ashamed to talk about it.
"Maddie is one of those young ladies that, you know as the Shakespearean quote says 'Though she be little, she is fierce,'" Elaine said, describing Maddie. "She's just a natural advocate for children that experience what she experiences with this disease."
Maddie and her papa started making their version of Sensation Salad Dressing. He brought the dressing to work and everyone loved it. So they thought, hey – why not put this on Facebook to see if we can raise money for U.C. awareness.
"We figured it was gonna be a lemonade stand type deal; that it would blow over," Maddie's dad Brett explained. "She made nine bottles that day and they sold in four minutes! And before we went to bed we sold 60 more bottles!" Brett said with a huge smile.
All money raised through the sale of Maddie's Sensation Salad Dressing goes to help raise awareness about Ulcerative Colitis, help fund trips to Camp Oasis, a camp exclusively for children with U.C. and Crohn's Disease, and buying gifts for children in the hospital.
On this particular day, Maddie was doing a presentation on how she makes her Sensation Dressing at the annual 4-H Club Achievement Day in New Roads. Elain Ellerbe met us at the New Roads Civic Center and surprised Maddie with our Hand It On cash gift on stage!
"We are here today because I nominated Maddie for WAFB Channel 9's Hand It On," Elain told the crowd. "And they selected her because of her advocacy work (with U.C. awareness). So Maddie, I'm here to give you the $300 that they give to the Hand It On recipient. And congratulations!"
Maddie took the money rather coyly.
"Thank you," Maddie said. "I'm gonna use some of this money for Camp Oasis because I want to go there and meet kids with the same thing I have."
How many of us as adults could turn our pain into something so worthwhile that would help so many. We could all take lessons from Maddie.
You can support Maddie's cause by purchasing her Sensation Salad Dressing at Elliot's Pharmacy (New Roads); Shear Design (Morganza); Point Coupee Sports & Gifts (Livonia); Jarreau's Off the Hook (Oscar); Mama G's Sweets & Treats (New Roads); and Bourg's Pharmacy (Port Allen).
Oh, by the way, Maddie's Sensation Salad Dressing earned her "4-H"er of the Year in her age group!
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.