CHS alum runs to raise money for Crohn's Disease

CHS alum runs to raise money for Crohn's Disease

CUMBERLAND - Hoping to help find a cure for a disease that makes her life "an everyday battle," a University of Rhode Island freshman is running a half marathon to raise money and support for Crohn's Disease research.

Caterina LaRocca, 18, who graduated from Cumberland High School in 2013, was diagnosed with the disease at age 10.

As she describes it, Crohn's Disease causes a body to "go haywire" because the brain thinks there is a virus in the stomach, so it ends up attacking healthy stomach tissue. This can mean extreme fatigue, crippling stomach pains and gastrointestinal problems.

LaRocca, who is studying kinesiology at URI to become an occupational therapist, said her last major flare-up was last summer, and her training has been going better than she expected.

A student-athlete for CHS, LaRocca played field hockey, and was a sprinter and pole vaulter on the track team. But this is the first time she is training for such a long-distance race. She is now up to seven miles, and has a 13.1-mile finish in her sights.

The goal is to raise $4,600 to be able to participate in the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon on July 20.

But if she is unable to raise the money by May 13, she will instead stay in Rhode Island to run the UnitedHealthcare Jamestown Half Marathon on July 12, which requires runners to raise $2,300. Either way, she said, she will be running for a cure.

"It's just something that I wouldn't want other people to go through," she said, adding that it made her the target of bullies when she was younger and took a toll on her confidence. "It wears down the mind, it wears down self-esteem."

"Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy," LaRocca said on her fundraising website, "and I want to work to help to increase everyone else's odds."

Visit www.active.com/donate/napaNE14/catielarocca to donate.