Celebrating our volunteers: Sharon Fennell's story

Sharon Fennell
This week is all about our volunteers! From British Columbia to Newfoundland, these are the people at the very heart of our organization who enable us to make advancements in Crohn’s and colitis research and awareness. For this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Week, we want to make sure they get the recognition they deserve by shining a spotlight on their work.

Sharon Fennell is currently the Chair of the Gutsy Walk that takes place in the Halton Region. She’s a familiar face to many in her community as she’s been involved with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada in a variety of ways over the past 34 years after her daughter and son were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Sharon’s passion and determination to do everything that she can to support research into discovering cures led the 2019 Halton Gutsy Walk committee to succeed in achieving their fundraising goal despite any obstacles that came their way. When she wasn’t diligently brainstorming with fellow committee members about how to attract new participants or fun activities to host at the walk site, Sharon planned the onsite execution, connected with participants, worked with sponsors, and built strong connections with donors. Charmingly funny and kind-hearted, Sharon’s warm demeanor led her to rally together a strong team of passionate volunteers eager to support Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s mission. 

Why did you start volunteering with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada?
“As a mother of two children diagnosed with Crohn’s at a young age, I felt I needed to work alongside other volunteers who have the same passion and purpose to raise funds for Crohn’s and colitis research. 

I first became involved with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada after seeing an ad in the Burlington newspaper about an upcoming education evening, and I was curious to learn more. The room was packed, and I felt very comfortable with the volunteers that were handing out information. Next, I attended my first “Heel’n’Wheel-Thon”, which we’ve all come to know as Gutsy Walk!”

What is your favourite part about organizing the Halton Gutsy Walk? 
“My favourite part is contacting volunteers to help the day of the walk and hearing them enthusiastically respond “yes!”, and in many cases, they end up volunteering their whole family to support the event.

On the date of the Gutsy Walk, my favourite moment is when everyone–from young children to the elderly–shows up at our Gutsy Walk location with smiling faces, as they are happy to support our cause. Along with enjoying great music and food, we have a fantastic time visiting with friends and sharing stories. Everyone is proud to be part of a successful fundraiser for research!”

To all our volunteers—thank you for your hard work and dedication! Stay tuned for more volunteer spotlights coming up this week. In the meantime, you can read the stories of the other volunteers we interviewed here.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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