In fourth grade, when an unusual stomachache and sudden weight loss abruptly sidelined him from all of these activities, a series of tests confirmed he had Crohn’s Disease, a debilitating, medically incurable disease that attacks the digestive system. An estimated 1.6 million Americans are affected by Crohn’s.
Learning that Crohn’s is a lifelong disease, Mason set out to educate the local community and to raise funds for research toward a cure. Beginning in 2016, Mason became involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF), speaking at workshops and participating in panel discussions. When his classmates began to ask him questions, he became passionate about educating those around him. Through these efforts, he has met other students in his school who also suffer from Crohn’s. Mason has offered to be a supportive friend and educational resource to children newly diagnosed, so that no child will feel alone.
He has become a leader in “Take Steps for a Cure,” a one-hour walk held in Boston where hundreds of Crohn’s and Colitis warriors, living with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, come together to raise money that provides funding for IBD research, advancing professional education, and patient support services. Mason formed team “Mason’s Marchers,” comprised of family members and friends whom he encourages to participate with him. For the past several years, dozens of friends and family have joined him on the walk and truly made a difference in his life, giving him strength and resolve in his endeavor.
In four years, Mason has raised over $38,000 towards a cure, and shows no signs of slowing down. He is among the top fundraisers in the New England Region for the Take Steps Walk, leading by example with his fundraising to help find a cure for these diseases. Colleen Marfione, the Walk Director, tells us that Mason was recognized as the “local Pediatric Honored Hero” and took the stage in front of 1,500 people on Boston Common to share his story and share a message of hope to others living with IBD. He may have been nervous to speak openly in front of so many about his struggles with IBD, but had the insight to know that doing so would help many people with their own IBD journeys, so put his personal comfort levels aside
Mason has given the CCF permission to connect him with any other child who receives an IBD diagnosis, so he can help them to not feel alone in their journey. He advocates, shares his story with bravery, and spreads hope to others like him.
Dr. Jess Kaplan from MGH for Children describes Mason as a kind, selfless young man with a huge heart and says, “His impact on children with Chrohn’s disease in our area is tangible.”
As part of Mason’s determination to raise awareness, he has helped to plan two well-attended brunch fundraisers, where there were 100 silent auction items. One of those auction items included a hand-crafted wooden American flag, made in Mason’s honor in memory of a veteran. At each event, Mason spoke about the need for research and explained exactly what Crohn’s disease is and how it can affect a person.
Mason’s story has also been shared in print by the Boston Herald and several regional papers.
Through an application process involving the story of Mason’s journey and fundraising, the CCF was chosen to be the recipient of funds from the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, and Lighting Gallery annual charity golf this past July.
Former Patriot, Matt Light, who also struggles with Crohn’s Disease, sent two encouraging and congratulatory videos with Mason and called him a rock star for his fundraising and outreach efforts at such a young age!