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'Inspired by Oprah' to help

by Desiree Ramirez, staff writer

Jennifer Brantley is an amazing friend, at least in Amanda Palmer’s view. Brantley is a senior at HPU and a fulltime mom with a one-year-old daughter. Brantley made time to hold a fundraiser to help Palmer, a fellow HPU student and friend, raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to finding a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.


Brantley and Palmer met while in the International Association of Business Communication Club at HPU. In November 2004, Palmer was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. After being treated with steroids for eight days at Straub Medical Center, Palmer was released with little knowledge of what she had been treated for. “I didn’t understand what was wrong, I had no idea. I spent eight days being treated, but I didn’t know what for,” said Palmer.
Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease which affects the large intestine, specifically the lower colon. It starts off as a bacterial infection, but the immune system over responds to the infection damaging the inner lining of the colon. In order to suppress the immune system, patients are treated with steroids. If a person’s body does not respond to treatment, they undergo a colostomy, a procedure to remove parts of the damaged colon.

Fortunately, Palmer responded immediately to the steroids. She currently takes an anti-inflammatory drug called Asadol. She explained that it can take a while to control IBD, and the treatment is long. “You have your good days or your bad days, but it’s always there,” Palmer said. There are many side effects that come along with the treatments. The drugs are very costly and there is no generic substitute, costing her about $200 monthly.

After being released from the hospital, Palmer went home and researched IBD. “Some doctors say it’s genetic, but it’s arguable that it’s environmental; some people think they can get this just by sitting on a toilet.” said Palmer. She thinks IBD is genetic.

Palmer attends a support group which is part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. According to CCFA, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affects over one million children and adults.

Palmer’s support group, along with two other groups, are sponsoring an event called “Get Your Guts in Gear” which is a three-day bicycle tour starting in New York City ending in Saratoga Springs, NY. The event will profit CCFA and IBD advocacy groups. Palmer is committed to raising $1,850 for the tour. “I was so excited for “Get Your Guts in Gear” because I’m an athlete,” said Palmer. Although Palmer is still raising money for the event, she has decided not to go to New York because of the cost of shipping her bike and equipment. Any money she raises beyond her pledge of $1,850 will go towards CCFA. Currently, Palmer is training as a competitive body builder in the Figure and Fitness Competition in Honolulu.

So what the heck does Oprah Winfrey have to do with any of this? Brantley was inspired by Winfrey one afternoon after watching her show. She wanted to help Palmer in her fundraising for the bike tour. “I wanted to find a way to help Amanda, and I decided to do it on my own,” said Brantley. Brantley raised over $100 to give Palmer through selling Avon. As an Avon representative, Brantley was able to split the costs of items ordered, and half of the dollar amount went towards the fundraising. “It’s an easy fundraiser to do, and it worked well. Since the product is so diverse you’re able to cover a large market,” said Brantley. She was also inspired by her mother doing good things for others, and wanted to set a good example for her own daughter by helping a friend in any way that she could. Brantley said “I see it as a responsibility to take care of our community. It’s important to try and do something to make a difference, even if it’s just one person.”


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