COLORADO SPRINGS — A local teen is turning her battle with Crohn's Disease into education and advocacy for others who've also been diagnosed. This weekend, she'll also be participating in an annual walk in Denver to raise money for research and to find a cure for the disease.
Her name is Kate Paden, and she is a 16-year-old student at Pine Creek High School. She was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in March after being sick for about two years.
"At first it was very overwhelming and I was upset. You have a bunch of doctor's appointments to make sure everything is in check. So, I was diagnosed and then the next day I was in the ICU to get everything under control," said Paden, who mentioned she was facing ongoing health issues prior to getting diagnosed.
Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. There are some medications and surgery options to help patients manage their symptoms but there is no cure. The average age of diagnosis is 15 to 35 years old.
Because she can't hold down food, Kate has used a feeding tube for about three months, but her health issues haven't stopped her from working more than 20 hours a week at Ziggi's Coffee in northern Colorado Springs. Her boss will be right by her side as she makes the trip to Metropolitan State University in Denver for the event this weekend.
"I would say the disease doesn't define her. She is somebody that is so strong, and so brave working through this whole issue, and still provide great service to customers" said Craig Carle, the franchise owner of Ziggi's Coffee. "Kate is a phenomenal, phenomenal person, and seeing her strengths through this whole situation is very inspiring."
Kate's team is named Chronic but Iconic, and while there's no cure for the disease, she's controlling what she can in the meantime.
"The best way to look at it, is with a positive mindset because it is something that's going to be in my life for the rest of my life," said Paden. "Being able to find good people to surround yourself with, and staying educated and trying your best to help the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation is what I've been looking forward to and keeping in my head."
Kate is heavily involved in DECA at her school, which is a business and marketing club, where she serves as an executive board member.
On Saturday at 7:30 a.m., the community will meet at Ziggi's Coffee off of Chapel Hills Dr. The community is invited to get $1 off their drinks. Then her team will be decorating their cars purple, which is the color to raise awareness of Crohn's and Colitis disease, before heading Metropolitan State University.
Money raised at the coffee shop and at the event will go toward finding a cure for the disease.
To support Paden on her journey, click here.