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What’s the best message you can give to someone struggling with something that seems bigger than them?
There’s no concrete answer, but a good start is always to let them know that they’re not alone.
That’s the message Cavs forward Larry Nance Jr. gave Noah Weber when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was just 11 years old. They’ve formed a bond since, and earlier this month, they teamed up to help others like them, co-hosting a pair of events in Weber’s hometown of Scarsdale, NY – the Athlete’s vs. Crohn’s & Colitis Tailgate Party and a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament the following day at Scarsdale High School to benefit mentorship programs for pediatric patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
The entire two-day event was captured on film for an upcoming documentary by CloseUp360 – detailing the special relationship between Larry and Noah and their combined efforts to help those fight Crohn’s and colitis.
At 16, Nance wasn’t much older than Weber when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s – a debilitating, incurable autoimmune disease. But it didn’t stop him from reaching his dream of reaching the NBA.
After first being diagnosed, Nance – like Noah and so many other individuals who deal with a condition that causes inflamed bowels, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss and stomach cramps – was lost for inspiration. But he learned that former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard also suffered from Crohn’s and knew his dream of becoming a professional athlete was still alive.
Now Nance inspires others. Like Noah – an aspiring young hoopster who contacted Nance through social media and got an immediate response. Together, they formed bond and not long after, founded Athlete’s vs. Crohn’s in January 2017.
Their mission is to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis in the adolescent population and help children realize their athletic potential despite being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Together, their goal is to connect with other young people afflicted with Crohn’s and colitis to athletes to inspire and mentor.
Because of the disease, the now-26-year-old Nance went through a painful growth process as a teen and every seven weeks still needs an infusion of the medication Remicade for two hours to give him enough energy to play ball. He will likely receive those infusions for the rest of his life.
When fans are watching Nance compete against some of the beefiest big men in the Association, he’s doing so on an empty stomach.
When Nance and Noah got together earlier this month in Scarsdale, they held a silent auction and raffle to raise funds to support the mission – joined by guests, Food Network star Christian Petroni, ESPN radio host Dave Rothenberg and arguably the greatest MLB closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.
”I could not be more proud of what AVC has been able to accomplish over the past two years,” said Nance. “We’ve fulfilled our goals – including the implementation of mentorship programs, awarding scholarships for deserving high school athletes battling IBD – and donated significant funds towards research. We’ve also been successful connecting patients and their families with each other.”
Larry Nance Jr. and Noah Weber have fought the disease and continue to fight it every day. But together, they’ve created something special – something that’ll give the next child diagnosed with Crohn’s one simple message …
You’re not alone.