This May, Beyond Celiac is joining together with the celiac disease community to amplify, empower and engage positive voices around the country to celebrate Celiac Awareness Month. The leading catalyst for a celiac disease cure in the United States, Beyond Celiac recently launched an Ambassador Program to expand local reach across the nation, encouraging those with celiac disease to share their experiences and create grassroots change in their communities.
“Amplifying the voices of our Reach Beyond Celiac Ambassadors plays an essential role in our mission,” said Suzanne Allaire, Beyond Celiac Director of National Programs and Volunteer Engagement. “They offer a diverse group of perspectives, experiences and journeys, and when they share their experiences and connect with others to increase awareness in their communities, we all gain an even more accurate and meaningful understanding of celiac disease to help us find a cure.”
Twelve Ambassadors have been selected for the inaugural year of the program, and they hail from all corners of the country. Some have children with celiac disease, and some were children themselves when they were diagnosed. All have a passion for advocacy and for building a supportive network for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Ambassadors include Clayton Steward from the Midwest, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in high school. Now in his early 20s, he wants to be there for others. He says, “When I was diagnosed, my family had never even heard of ‘celiac,’ let alone known someone living with it. Becoming a Reach Beyond Celiac Ambassador gives me a chance to be the voice for the undiagnosed, a source of lived experience for the newly diagnosed and a reminder of the limitless opportunities for the seasoned veterans.”
Another key Celiac Awareness Month program that serves to bring communities together and raise funds for celiac disease research is the Step Beyond Celiac 5K. Throughout May, participants are encouraged to set up a personal or team fundraiser, run or walk 3.1 miles and help Beyond Celiac get closer to a cure. Learn more and register here.
“Since the inaugural Step Beyond Celiac 5K in 2017, the focus of this event has been on our community. Our outstanding volunteers and participants contribute so much energy, enthusiasm and effort to the cause. We will continue to host in-person 5K races as we are able to do so safely, but this month-long virtual event is a wonderful way to raise our voices – and our feet – wherever we are,” said Allaire.
Celiac Awareness Month also focuses on the mission of Beyond Celiac to advance science and research. Through its comprehensive science strategy, the organization accelerates the science of celiac disease by awarding research grants, recruiting patients for clinical trials and partnering with pharmaceutical, health and biotech companies and organizations to enhance the shared goals of driving treatments and a cure.
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, more than half of whom are still undiagnosed. The disease causes damage to the small intestine, resulting in debilitating symptoms, and if left untreated, can lead to serious long-term health problems including infertility and some types of cancer.
About Beyond Celiac
Founded in 2003, Beyond Celiac is the leading catalyst for a celiac disease cure in the United States, serving as a patient advocacy and research-driven organization working to drive diagnosis and accelerate the discovery of new treatments. By engaging with the top scientists in the field, making the right investments in research and supporting the broad community of those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, Beyond Celiac envisions a world in which people can live healthy lives and eat without fear – a world Beyond Celiac. www.BeyondCeliac.org.