Triathlon com­peti­tor won’t let Crohn’s dis­ease run his life

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - ALEXAN­DRA HECK

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/

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Kevin Val­lier is run­ning an Iron­man triathlon to raise money for Hamil­ton Health Sciences.

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