Today’s guest is Ryan Van Voorhis, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in high school and has been living with an ostomy for the past 15 years. Inspired by the health care team who helped him through the early years with Crohn’s, he decided to pursue a Masters in Social Work, which allowed him to begin volunteering as a camp counselor at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Camp Oasis almost 11 years ago. And he’s been going back every summer since to continue volunteering, serving as the Mental Health Director for the last few years.
Two years ago, however, he made the decision to leave his career in social work to pursue his culinary passion. You’ll now recognize him and his best friend since high school, Seth Bradley, as the co-founders of Nude Dude Food in Chicago. They specialize in anti-inflammatory diets and menus for their clients, providing private catering and experiences for small groups. They travel around the country preparing amazing meals and also raising awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis.
In this episode, Ryan shares his Crohn’s story, how he spent over five years trying a variety of medications–from steroids to biologics and having severe reactions to many–while never finding remission. After his junior year in college, he faced the decision of having an ostomy; for him, it was a chance to get his life back.
After his surgery, he dove into his passions of fitness and cooking, determined to not let Crohn’s prevent him from living his life. Reflecting back on his journey and how far he’s come, he takes on life with determination and positivity, knowing that every day is a gift. He continues to serve others through his work, volunteering, and advocacy and encourages anyone with IBD to be be their own biggest advocate; ask questions, do research, and be an empowered patient.