Daily Point of Light # 2511 Sep 19, 2003

Gideon Sofer, 18, a senior at Highland Park High School, is conducting a national campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which has afflicted him for much of his life. After nearly dying three years ago from a particularly serious attack of Crohn’s disease, Gideon decided to take action. “I didn’t know how many days I had left,” he said, “but as long as I was being given the gift of life, I was going to do everything in my power to conquer this thing.” An avid stamp collector, he began by launching an effort to persuade the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp highlighting Crohn’s disease. He built a website to promote the idea, collected 5,000 signatures on a petition, and helped draft a Congressional resolution urging approval of the new stamp. Gideon also has delivered motivational lectures at schools and student conferences, and recently formed a foundation that is seeking pharmaceutical research grants to study the disease. “With Crohn’s or any adversity, you can live a life of sorrow feeling helpless,” he said, “or you can choose to turn it into an opportunity and realize you have the power to create change.”