an open letter from my wife

I'm up in the northwoods of Wisconsin finishing up a week of class with some amazing photographers; learning more, shooting a lot, and just having a great time. While I've been gone, my wife has sent this letter out as an open invitation to participate with her (and me) as we undertake a 1/2 marathon this summer. Instead of re-writing her letter (seeing as she is a MUCH better writer than I), I'll just put it here.


Dear friends and family,

About two years ago, Andy’s sister Aimee received a life-altering diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Aimee already knew that she got sick every time she ate; what she didn’t know until the diagnosis was that she must take long-term steroid medications and immune-suppressing drugs daily in order to absorb nutrients from food, and that these medications have dangerous side effects and will be extremely expensive. Some patients require surgery when medications no longer control the symptoms or complications such as obstruction or fistulas arise. Currently, there is no cure for this disease.

Two years ago Aimee went to Guatemala to serve in the midst of her own discomfort and was changed by her experiences there. She dealt with the daily regimen of pills, enabling her to digest food and be nourished. Aimee is back in the US now, but she still feels called to minister to others, perhaps in a culture other than the United States. It will be difficult with her medical condition. Any progress toward better treatment or a cure will benefit not only Aimee, but those whom she will touch with her service.

Last fall, Andy and I walked 14 miles here in Wisconsin to raise funds and awareness for CCFA. This coming July, it is our family’s goal to walk a half-marathon (13.1 miles) from Napa to Sonoma, CA. We are trying to raise $16,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America to fund research toward a cure. We can’t do this alone, and we need your help! We would love if you would donate at least 0.2% of our goal ($32 – we would need 5,000 people to donate at this level to reach $16,000). But any contribution is greatly appreciated! (All donations are tax deductible.) Donations can be made through my website: or by sending a check made payable to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation to my home address:

    CCFA c/o Jessica Stenz
    1907 Woodburn Rd. A
    Waukesha, WI 53188

Several local businesses have generously donated items which we will raffle off! If you send a donation of $50 or more before May 15th, you could win a gift certificate to Devon Seafood Grill at Bayshore (it’s excellent, if you haven’t been there), hand-crafted jewelry (made by Jessica), and more! Anyone who sends a donation of $32 or more will receive a pair of hand-made earrings.

I am always happy to answer any questions regarding Team Challenge and can be reached best at jstenz7 [at] gmail [dot] com. If you know others affected by these conditions who may want to make a donation or participate in Team Challenge, please feel free to share this message with them.

Thank you for your time and support. I am hoping, through our efforts, we can come closer to a cure for IBD! Because no one should live in embarrassment or without health insurance, due to a disease that is beyond their control.

Jessica Stenz

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