CLIFTON PARK — Assemblyman Jim Tedisco presented a New York State Assembly citation Monday to Haley Curtiss, a Ballston Spa High School student and the recipient of the Presidential Volunteerism Award. [Read more…]
BALLSTON SPA — The smiles shared between two young ladies, McKenna Towers, 16, and Haley Curtiss, 13, display a bond that goes deeper than a friendship. Both ladies struggle with gastrointestinal disorders, but their spirits are strong. Towers has ulcerative colitis and Curtis has Crohn’s disease.
Surprisingly, Towers and Curtiss have the same pediatric gastroenterology physician, Dr. Nikki Allmendinger. Towers asked Dr. Allmendinger for a source of support and she recommended Curtiss. Both young ladies are Ballston Spa residents and knew each other in passing, but they didn’t know they were going to become “sisters.”
Several months ago, the Albany chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (the CCFA) contacted Towers to see if she would be interested in participating in a panel. But Towers was scheduled to be on a trip to Spain the first date they presented so she recommended Curtiss.
The CCFA then changed the date of the annual meeting to April 20 and suddenly both ladies were able to attend. The event was held at the Albany Marriot on Wolf Road.
The panel at the annual meeting included seven patients who were given the opportunity to tell their story to the audience. Audience members were then allowed to ask questions.
The patient panel consisted of six people diagnosed with Crohn’s. Towers was the only person with colitis. There were also two medical doctors and one holistic doctor on the panel to answer questions from an expert’s perspective.
“We had to prepare speeches and it takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of everyone with your microphone,” Towers said.
The broad range of ages on the panel and in the audience helped set the atmosphere for the event.
“There was a good audience with very emotional responses,” Curtiss said. “It was comforting and made you feel at home with the atmosphere of the people and the facility.”
Participating on the panel was only the first step in giving back for Towers and Curtiss. Towers is currently working on publishing a children’s book called “More than a Tummy Ache,” but she could not take credit for the title of the book, she said.
“Hailey came up with the name for the book,” Towers said, smiling at Haley. “I have received great feedback and I’m planning to have them in the goodie baskets.”
The gift baskets are apart of an organization Curtiss and Towers are in the process of forming. Each have special projects to contribute to the basket. Towers wants to contribute with crafts and possibly some of her knitting works.
“I once received a craft made by someone during one of my stays at Albany Medical Center,” she said. “I still have it and look at it everyday. The thought and time someone took to make something to give me in the hospital touched my heart.”
Curtiss wants to begin with the basket itself.
“I know how to basket weave so I want to make the baskets that will be delivered,” she said. “I’m hoping to have as much handmade items as possible.”
The gift baskets will be targeted for children hospitalized from complications of Crohn’s and colitis. However, Towers feels people will benefit from her crafts no matter the age or reason for being hospitalized, she said.
Curtiss and Towers are following a powerful motto both say is close to their hearts: “Inspire and make a difference. Don’t just sit there and feel bad for yourself.”
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