Triathlon competitor won’t let Crohn’s disease run his life
GRIMSBY — Kevin Vallier was down to 120 pounds when his disease was at its worst.
As his battle with Crohn’s disease wreaked havoc on his body, he didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house, he wasn’t absorbing nutrients and he was growing weaker by the day.
He had to take rests while trying to make it up the stairs.
Now, thanks to the treatment centre at Hamilton Health Sciences for digestive diseases, Vallier has completed a number of triathlons, and on July 9 he will be competing in another to say thanks.
“I remember the exact moment when I thought I would try one of these,” said Vallier.
He was at home sick, when the disease was near its worst; and he was watching the Ironman competition. The full Ironman triathlon is a 4 km swim, 180 km bike ride and a full marathon to finish.
“There’s always a lot of inspiring stories,” he said, talking about the people competing in the race; and he decided that he would one day do something like that.
He started small. He’d spend a few moments on the treadmill, working up his stamina. One of his first runs was the 5 km race at Around the Bay in Hamilton.
“I do it just to show the disease is not going to control me,” said Vallier. “It’s a disease that really, really plays havoc on you mentally and emotionally.”
He says most people who don’t struggle with intestinal disorders don’t really now how difficult it can be. He says when a flare up occurs, being away from a washroom can be misery.
“Stress plays a huge factor in triggering a flare up,” he said, noting that being concerned about getting sick can actually inflame the situation.
When Vallier finally saw Dr. John Marshall, a specialist for digestive diseases at Hamilton Health Sciences, he told Vallier that he didn’t realize exactly how sick he was. He’d lost nearly 45 pounds.
“To see him come so far and be an inspiration to our patients with Crohn’s and colitis is inspiring,” said Marshall.
That Vallier is capable of competing at such a level “is proof that these diseases don’t have to control your life.”
To support Vallier in his competition and make a donation, visit the Hamilton Health Sciences at https://hamiltonhealth.ca/mchfmain/
Kevin Vallier is running an Ironman triathlon to raise money for Hamilton Health Sciences.