Celebrating our volunteers: Betty Priddle's story

Betty Priddle
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. 

Betty Priddle has been volunteering with us for over 20 years. Based in Newfoundland, she is an integral member of the Trinity-Conception chapter and wears many hats: Secretary, Treasurer, Fall Raffle organizer, and Gutsy Walk committee member. 

Why did you become involved with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada? 
Inflammatory bowel disease is known to strike anybody at any age, at any time—with more and more children being diagnosed every year. “Anybody” is my son and “any age” for him was 12. We had never heard of Crohn’s; but, like so many others, we weren’t long learning what that meant. No parent should ever hear the words “no known cause, no cure” and then have their child exposed to tests, procedures and treatments even an adult would find difficult—a far-from-normal childhood.

For those first years, we had no one to consult with outside the medical profession as there was no chapter in our area and we knew of no other person with the disease. What a relief when, in 1992, five years after my son’s diagnosis, I saw a notice looking for persons interested in starting a local chapter of the foundation. I realized that was my opportunity to step up and do my bit, to fight back against this disease and help bring about a cure for my son and others. 

A Crohn’s diagnosis is a family affair—a support group for all the hurdles that have to be faced. However, there has been more than one silver lining to the Crohn’s cloud that hung over our family. We have seen advancements in medications and treatments that have improved lives, and that has given me a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering has also given me many lasting friendships with others connected to these diseases, most of those coming from years of participating in Gutsy Walks. We have several volunteers who have been with us almost since that first year. One child, who had attended several walks with her parents, looked around at all the familiar faces and said we were like one big family. We’ve come a long way since 1992!

What is your favourite part of volunteering with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada?
My favourite event is the Gutsy Walk, of which I have many fond memories. There’s the seven-year-old who went door-to-door, collected $200 ($80 of that in pennies), filled up jars and buckets, and hauled it to her first walk in her little wagon—all in hopes of finding a cure for her father. I was inspired by the woman who was determined to ask 1,000 people (friends, strangers, whoever she came in contact with) for $1 and not only met, but exceeded her goal. Then, there’s the teen who asked for donations instead of gifts for her birthday; and the group who have attended for 20 years in memory of a young accident victim.

I get satisfaction from knowing we are helping spread the word to others living with Crohn’s or colitis so they needn’t suffer alone, and knowing our chapter is doing its part to bring about an end to the symptoms of bowel disease. A brighter future is what keeps volunteers, like me, committed.

To all our volunteers—thank you for your hard work and dedication! Stay tuned for more volunteer spotlights coming up this week.

  • 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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