Great Comebacks is a program highlighting those who have conditions leading to ostomy surgery, such as Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Colorectal cancer and more. They raise awareness to these conditions and Ostomy through the inspirational stories of those who have survived with an ostomy, offering encouragement, hope, and advice to those who are undergoing or experiencing the hardships and sometimes difficult transition after their surgery.
Great Comebacks was founded by Rolf Benischke in 1984, over 25 years ago. Rolf was a former San Diego Charger and has overcome ulcerative colitis. It’s sponsored by ostomy supply manufacturer Convatec and partnered with a whole alphabet soup of Ostomy-related organizations including the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA), the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), Youth Rally, and the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society.
The ceremony featured two national award winners, first Tony Bell, a former pro bull rider who now works as a camp counselor for youngsters with an ostomy, and Latoya Lucas, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who was severely wounded in duty. Their stories give inspiration to those in fear of their surgery or life with Ostomy, and hope to change the perception of ostomy through education to families and friends of ostomates as well.
Tony Bell, awarded the National Great Comebacks award, has struggled with an ostomy since birth. As an adult, Tony became a professional bull rider, even riding in the well-known Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Now pursuing a special education teaching degree and performing in a barbershop quartet, Tony wants to share his success with the whole world and demonstrate to others how an individual can overcome adversity, achieving their dreams at their highest potential.
Latoya Lucas received the Tony Snow Public Service award, an award to honor and recognize individuals who are serving their country and dealing with intestinal disease and ostomy surgery. Latoya was deployed in Iraq at the age of 24 where her squad was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades, leaving her with a fractured pelvis, traumatic brain injury, severe burns, nerve damage and broken bones. Latoya was taken to Washington D.C. where she was underwent surgery, including ostomy for intestines which were irreparably shredded by shrapnel.
Since her life threatening experience, Latoya has written a motivational and inspiring book to express her life experiences called The Immeasurable Spirit: Lessons of a Wounded Warrior about Faith and Perseverance. (You can find this book on Amazon here) The book received the Gold Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America. She also started a project which contacts wounded soldiers to provide them with encouragement. Latoya has also received the prestigious Purple Heart award and in 2005 was the first female to receive the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s Region V Patriot of the Year award.
Find more stories and information about Great Comebacks on the website: www.greatcomebacks.com.