The Coastal Star

A Coastal Star: Daughter’s illness inspires mom to get involved

Wendy Greenhut with a photo of her daughter, Jamie. When not busy with her foundation work, Greenhut is an actress with a part in the independent film Callous, which premiered last month at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. She also enjoys photography and painting with acrylics. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Suzanna Mahler

    When it comes to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Florida chapter, Wendy Greenhut goes the extra mile. The coastal Delray Beach resident was recently elected to serve on the organization’s board of directors.
    “It’s a big honor,” said Greenhut, 46. “This position allows me to increase awareness within the community as well as create new ways to get the word out.”
    Six years ago, Greenhut’s 19-year-old daughter, Jamie, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the colon and the rectum.
    At age 17, Jamie spent several weeks at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, where she had numerous surgeries, including one in which her entire colon was removed. That was about the time Wendy started to volunteer with CCFA.
    “The Cleveland Clinic is a phenomenal facility,” said Greenhut. “My daughter lived four years of her life being sick constantly. Her colon was diseased from end to end. If she wouldn’t have gotten the surgery, she’d have stayed sick for life.
    “I formed a ‘mom committee’ with other mothers at the clinic, and that made me realize just how important it is to have a support system when you’re going through something like this.”
    Jamie’s surgery has saved the teenager’s life and her livelihood. She is a freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
    “My entire outlook on life has changed,” Jamie said. “Because I’m healthy and able to do what I want to do without worry, I’m a much happier and more positive person. It’s definitely changed me for the better and has enhanced my way of living.”
    Like her mother, Jamie devotes her time to creating awareness through her blog: http://nocolon-noproblem.blogspot.com.
    “I don’t blog as often as I’d like, because college has taken up almost all of my time, but it helps me reach out to others who have nobody to go to for guidance. I didn’t have anybody who had been through the surgery to help me along, so it’s nice to be that person for somebody else.”
    Thanks to this mother/daughter team, many people living with this disease don’t have to feel alone anymore. Greenhut is chairing an event for CCFA called “Take Steps Walk.” The fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 10 at CityPlace in West Palm Beach.
    Greenhut’s husband, Doug, owner of a Delray Beach-based business called The Book Company, plans to walk with her. They’ve named their team We’ve Got Guts.
    “Wendy and her family have been instrumental in raising thousands of dollars for the foundation as well as creating more awareness about our mission and how the foundation is serving the 94,000 people in the state of Florida living with these diseases,” said Amy Gray, executive director of the foundation’s Florida
Chapter.                           

If You Go
The Take Steps Walk is a fundraiser for Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Free for spectators, the walk raises money to aid the more than 1.4 million Americans affected by digestive diseases.     
Time:  3-5 p.m. Nov. 10
Location: CityPlace, 700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach.                               
Information: 218-2929, or www.ccfa.org/chapters/florida/       

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