Lauren French

Cause: Crohn’s & Colitis Australia
Adventure: Crohn’s & Colitis China Challenge 2016
Fundraising Page:
Social: @lozziemaree

As our Fundraiser of the Month, Lauren has scored herself a $50 donation to her fundraising page. To be our next month’s winner, make sure you’re uploading your journey to social and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired.

What inspired you to take on your first Inspired Adventure?

I first felt inspired to help make a difference when my sister’s husband, Simon announced he was participating in the MCG “Stadium Stomp” to try and raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia, in honour of my testing journey with Crohn’s Disease. Following his success at the fundraiser, I visited the CCA website, to find out how I could help. I stumbled across the upcoming Inspired Adventure to trek the Great Wall of China, and knew straight away I had to climb that wall. Simon was very supportive and offered to come with me! Thankfully, it wasn’t too late for us to join!

Why did you choose to fundraise for Crohn's & Colitis Australia?

I have suffered with Crohn’s Disease for the past fourteen years of my life. While my condition has caused me much pain, loss and suffering I have recently been able to reach a feeling of acceptance. I understand that my disease will always be my reality, but am very determined to live a fulfilling and fruitful life. I hope to help other sufferers via fundraising so that they may reach their own point of peace and acceptance.

"I received messages from many old friends and even others who I had not yet met, disclosing to me that they too were sufferers and that they wanted to be a part of my adventure"

You are clearly really involved and invested in the art of giving back to the community, what do you think is so exciting about being able to take on an adventure as well as give to a cause you care about?

It is truly a dream come true. I have always had a deep passion for travel, and currently work at a travel agency. Unfortunately I have never felt the confidence to visit Asia, because of my Crohn’s. This Inspired Adventure is allowing me to visit China, in the safety of a group who all understand my concerns and challenges. Not only am I able to develop a new supportive network for myself, but I have also raised a considerate amount for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia. What an incredible opportunity!

ONE MONTH TO GO! China come at us! 👊🏽 #boom

A photo posted by lauren maree (@lozziemaree) on

What are your total funds raised so far? Are there any key fundraising ideas that have been the bulk of your success?

Simon and I have currently raised $9,752.73 for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia. As we joined our adventure only three months ago, we approached the fundraising with the idea of hosting one main event, to raise the bulk of our funds. We wanted to think of something fun and light-hearted, that people would be happy to purchase a ticket to attend. We both came to the agreement of hosting a Trivia event complete with raffle, as well as an Online Auction on the side.

We drafted a letter and approached as many local businesses that we could think of requesting a contribution to help make our events a success. I sent letters to or visited businesses that had made a difference to my personal journey with Crohn’s Disease- for instance, following my ileostomy surgery in February, it took a lengthy time for me to feel fit or adventurous again, as I had lost most of my muscle strength.

A few months after surgery, I decided to visit a tree tops obstacle course, in the mountains. Although it was a challenge for me physically, it left me feeling so empowered and physically capable, even with my new ostomy friend on board. When approaching this business, I shared my personal experience with them via the letter, and they were so excited that they had made such a positive impact on my recovery, and were more than happy to donate a voucher. I aimed to personalise each letter sent. You have to expect that not all businesses will be able to help, or even offer a reply, but I found most were very generous. Perhaps this was because Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are not often talked about, regardless of the fact that many of those who had opened our letters were bound to have personally known or known of a sufferer.

After two months, we had received donations from 71 businesses. We split the donations into Online Auction items and raffle prizes for the Trivia Night. In the meantime, we created a Facebook page to promote our events, and encouraged the purchase of Trivia tickets. The events were hard work, but we managed to gain incredible interest and 203 people attended our trivia night! We are still yet to tally our income from this event.

The key to success is vital support from local businesses, as well as support and help from close family and friends to coordinate the events. I was fortunate to have my sister by my side, who is very passionate about my cause. She has always been there for me through my tests and triumphs with Crohn’s, and it was important to her to help Simon and I get across the line. As a primary school teacher, her organisational skills helped us to plan and run the events smoothly. I owe a lot of my success to her.

What have been some of the highlights of your fundraising experience so far?

The highlight of my fundraising experience was learning that I had the confidence to finally let the world know that I was a sufferer of Crohn’s Disease! I had always been very private and almost ashamed of the burden my disease had bestowed upon my life. My journey with Inspired Adventures has given me the strength to proudly say, “Yes, I do have Crohn’s Disease, but this in no way defines me, and has only caused me to be a stronger person”. Upon becoming public with my ordeal, I received messages from many old friends and even others who I had not yet met, disclosing to me that they too were sufferers and that they wanted to be a part of my adventure. One is organising a movie night fundraiser for me in a couple of weeks. We have since created a small support group between us, where we are able to meet and talk about our lives in a way that only Crohnie’s would understand! Without my Inspired experience, I would never have known that these girls shared my burden, and we would all still be suffering in silence with little support.

What have been your biggest challenges in taking on an Inspired Adventure? How did you overcome this?

As I live with my disease, I must be careful to maintain a healthy balance between work life and resting adequately, so that I ensure I don’t slip into a flare up. I find I am most vulnerable to flare ups when I am stressed, and I must admit this has been a challenge throughout my fundraising adventure. As Simon and I had only joined our group a few months prior to take off, we needed to begin our fundraising quickly and effectively. There were many days that saw me at work, and then coming home to spend long hours in front of the computer, sending emails and writing letters to businesses. The Online Auction was also very hard on my body mentally, as I tried to keep track of who had bid on, paid and collected their items. Thankfully Simon has been able to take on most of the budgeting work load. My sister was also very much in tune with my schedule, and encouraged me to take time to rest, eat well and sleep. I definitely did slip into a number of flare ups along the way, however this is all part of managing a life with Crohn’s Disease, and it is something that I am only too familiar with.

"This challenge has reflected so much positivity and joy onto my life, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity"

Have you noticed any changes or transformation in your life since taking on your first adventure?

Absolutely. My adventure has provided me with a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Never have I felt so productive and worthy. I have constantly been telling others along the way, ‘the feeling I have right now is such a rush! Organising a fundraiser for a worthy cause should be something on everybody’s bucket list!’ I am almost afraid that I might feel a little lost after my adventure is over, but I know I will be kept busy spending time with my new support group and friends that I have made along the way! My Inspired Adventure has honestly enabled me to feel like an “Everyday Hero”. It has reflected so much positivity and joy onto my life, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity. The awareness I have raised for Crohn’s and Colitis is also invaluable.

What advice would you offer to other people looking to complete a challenge like this?

Surround yourself with positive, supportive friends and family who want to help and are as passionate about your cause as you are! Don’t try to do it alone, the more support and love you attract, the more fulfilling the experience can be. I feel that my journey has so far been perfected by the people I have worked with and met along the way! I have made lifelong friends already by putting myself out there, and I have not even met my fellow Adventurers yet! I have found that many people want to feel that they can be a part of something “good”, but aren’t sure how to coordinate a fundraiser on their own from scratch. Because of this, they are more than happy to help you get to your target, so that they themselves can feel uplifted, helpful and supportive of something so worthy.

Fundraiser of the Month

Become our Fundraiser of the Month to win a $50 donation to your fundraising page!

Take a picture whilst fundraising for your adventure and use the hashtag #IveBeenInspired and your adventure hashtag. The most exciting use of the hashtag, with a fundraising focus will be our Fundraiser of the Month – it’s that easy!