For six months, Palm Beach Atlantic University pharmacy student Kylie Webb endured stomach problems before doctors found out the cause.
The diagnosis: Crohn’s disease, a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract.
It was 2008, and Webb had just finished her first year in PBA’s Gregory School of Pharmacy. Soon she turned energy toward educating people about the disorder and raising money for research through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
She enlisted the help of several of her pharmacy school classmates, who helped to raise more than $10,000 for the cause in the past 2½ years.
"It feels amazing to know that I have the support of the pharmacy students, especially those in my professional fraternity, Kappa Psi," Webb said. "My fraternity brothers have always been there to make signs for fund-raising events, send emails, organize community service and so on. Basically, anything I need, someone is always there willing to help out."
Tomorrow, Webb and her team will participate in the foundation's Take Steps Walk in downtown West Palm Beach. Webb has been named this year’s local honored hero for the event, a designation she never expected.
"When (local Walk Manager) Jennifer Baker first called me and asked me to be the local honored hero, my initial reaction was just kind of like, 'What? Are we talking about the same Kylie?'" she said.
"After I had some time to digest everything she was saying, I was extremely excited. I honestly couldn’t believe that I could have that much impact for her to even consider giving me that kind of title."
One person who wasn't surprised about the choice was Dr. Mary Ferrill, dean of the pharmacy school.
"Kylie is an inspiration to other students," Dr. Ferrill said. "Instead of letting her disease limit her activities, she uses it to witness to others about what we can do with God’s help."
Webb has had an interest in pharmacy since her senior year at Lake Worth Community High School. Through the school’s medical magnet program, she took a pharmacy technician course started by Walgreen's Pharmacy.
"After taking that class I just decided that I was going to be a pharmacist, and here I am," she said.
Take Steps is the largest event dedicated to finding cures for digestive diseases. At more than 100 walk sites across the country, thousands of people gather to fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Over the past three years, the organization has raised more than $20 million for research and patient service programs.
The West Palm Beach Take Steps Walk begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheatre. Registration begins at 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.cctakesteps.org.