Jay Burchfield, says he likes to challenge himself.
After spending several years fighting a mystery disease, many people would say he has been challenged enough. But the 12-year-old Fairhope Middle School student is leading the effort to help other families deal with the illness and raise money to find a cure.
Burchfield said he spent several years suffering from severe symptoms that left him with an elevated heart rate, an abnormal heart rhythm and stomach pain. In just three months he lost 25 pounds. Doctors initially sent him to a cardiologist.
A referral later to a gastroenterologist finally gave Burchfield and his family answers. He was suffering from Crohn’s disease, a painful, often debilitating digestive disease. Nearly 3.1 million Americans, including roughly 80,000 children under the age of 18, suffer from Crohn’s.
Burchfield, who is an active golfer and swimmer, said he has been able to manage the disease without curbing many of the activities.
On Saturday, May 11, Burchfield will serve as this year’s honored hero at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Take Steps Gulf Coast Walk at Fairhope Municipal Pier. The pre-teen said he helped spread the word about the event and has raised about $1,500. He will also speak before the walk begins.
“I wanted to challenge myself and I thought this would be a pretty good adventure,” he said of helping to organize the walk.