It’s only been a year since Glamorous Gutless Girls was formed to serve people with gastrointestinal issues, but organizers noted at a May 6 “Tea with GGG” that it has accomplished much in that year and will be expanding its reach in the coming one.
GGG was created by Reganne O’Brien of Brookfield after she had colon removal surgery and noted the lack of support for people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and related diseases.
“We’re trying to create the culture that addresses these problems rather than sweeps them under the rug or patches it up with a Band-aid, like most doctors and people with the problem want to do because it’s not something that’s always comfortable to talk about,” O’Brien said.
In addition to forming a non-profit corporation, O’Brien oversaw university clubs that formed at Gannon University, where she attends, and Mercyhurst College, both in Erie, and Youngstown State University. In the next year, clubs will be formed at Walsh University in North Canton, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Kent State University, she said.
“Those are some big schools we’re getting into next year, and it’s all because of our scholarship winners and the work that they’ll be doing and some of the work that they’ve done already,” O’Brien said.
GGG presented four awards at the tea, all receiving $1,000. Scholarship recipients were: Michael Massucci of Howland, who attends Walsh and is the first male recipient of a GGG scholarship; Erika Sitch of Warren, who just graduated from Warren Harding High School and plans to attend Kent; and Madison Uhrin of Transfer, who is finishing her time at Reynolds High School and will attend Duquesne.
The scholarships were awarded based on leadership, grades, need, community involvement and ties to GGG, whether by interning or willingness to start a new chapter, O’Brien said.
“You guys are our future next year,” GGG Vice Chair Hallie Neimi of Hermitage said. “You guys have struggled with some health problems, too. Next year, it’s going to be really fun working with you.”
The IBD Patient of the Year was Erin McCall, Mercyhurst chapter president and founder. She was evaluated on the same criteria as the scholarship recipients, but also for her activism within GGG and patient advocacy, O’Brien said.
GGG took in $5,000 through fundraisers in its first year, and $17,000 through individual and corporate donations and grants, O’Brien said.
“We’re trying to figure out a cohesive plan for all our new chapters that are starting to do fundraising during the school year,” she said.
GGG also formed a partnership with the Crohn’s Foundation’s Pittsburgh office, and Gannon.
“Their master’s of business administration program has been working with us on a strategic plan for our nonprofit, to grow it,” O’Brien said of Gannon.
GGG also is looking for people to serve on a board of directors to mentor the young foundation’s young officers, hold them accountable and provide “a voice of reason,” she said.
In photo: Glamorous Gutless Girls’ Vice Chair Hallie Neimi, left, and President Reganne O’Brien, right, stand with scholarships recipients, from left, Erin McCall, Michael Massucci and Madison Uhrin.