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Great Comebacks(R) Program Announces 2007 National Award Winner

Global Advocates Honor US Firefighter Scott Ellis for His Comeback from Ostomy Surgery, and Send Off Seven Summits Climber Robert Hill on Everest


WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Scott Ellis, a firefighter from Enfield, Connecticut was named this year's Great Comebacks(R) National Award recipient this evening at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1984 by former San Diego Charger and ulcerative colitis patient Rolf Benirschke, the Great Comebacks Program recognizes the inspirational achievements of people who prevail over debilitating intestinal diseases, colorectal cancer and ostomy surgery.

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During the ceremony, the gathering of national and international advocates also recognized Seven Summits climber Robert Hill on the eve of his departure for Mount Everest, the final peak in his quest to become the first Crohn's patient and ostomate to scale the Seven Summits, or tallest mountains on each of the continents.

This year, the Great Comebacks Program also welcomed two new sponsors, the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA) and the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS) -- joining long-time program sponsors ConvaTec, a world-leading manufacturer of ostomy and wound care products, and the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA).

In the United States, an estimated 1.4 million people are affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)(1), a collective term for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, 750,000 Americans are living with an ostomy due to either IBD, colorectal cancer or other chronic bowel or bladder diseases.(2)

"Tonight is a celebration of special individuals like Scott and Rob, who have come through their experiences filled with courage and a desire to help others who face similar challenges," said Rolf Benirschke, founder and chairman of the Great Comebacks Program. "We are delighted to welcome two new partners, dedicated to our mission of providing hope and encouragement to the thousands of patients and their families coping with these diseases."

Each year, the Great Comebacks Advisory Committee chooses regional Great Comebacks Award recipients, from whom one is selected as the national award recipient. Besides Ellis, this year's regional recipients were Wendy Lueder of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Mike Florak of Boardman, OH; and Jeffrey Larsen of Seattle, WA.

"These remarkable individuals embody the spirit and determination that defines a Great Comeback. Their examples inspire all of us at ConvaTec every day in our efforts to develop innovative technologies and provide products and support that help people with ostomies live a healthier life," added David Johnson, President of ConvaTec.

More information about this year's national and regional recipients is available at

Scott Ellis, 2007 National Great Comebacks(R) Recipient

Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when he was 9 years old, Scott Ellis grew up determined to not let his disease stop him from following in his family's tradition of becoming a firefighter.

Growing up, he enjoyed participating in physical activities such as hiking, camping and swimming. At the age of 16, a year after his first ostomy surgery, Ellis joined the firefighter cadet program, beginning his journey of saving lives. Six years later, at 22, he joined the ranks of professional firefighters. During his grueling training, which included extreme physical tests, Ellis' ostomy was never mentioned. In fact, members of his class never even knew he was living with an ostomy unless he chose to share the information with them.

Ellis, now 36, wants to show other persons with an ostomy that surgery can be a beginning rather than an end. "My disease has made me appreciate life, especially my family, to the fullest," he said. "I am thankful that such medical procedures were available to me and that I have gone on to reach my dreams and lead a full life. Now, I want to help others push through their hardships."

Robert Hill, Seven Summits Climber

At 23 years of age, Robert Hill was an avid mountain climber, adventure racer and triathlete. Then, wracked by debilitating diarrhea, cramping and pain, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease with ulcerative colitis, resulting in ostomy surgery only a year and a half later.

Eight years after his life changing surgery, Hill decided to do something about the social stigma surrounding intestinal diseases and having an ostomy. He began a personal quest to become the first Crohn's patient and ostomate to climb the Seven Summits, or the tallest peak on every continent, and in doing so, raise awareness about living with inflammatory bowel disease and an ostomy. From being barely able to make it up a flight of stairs due to the debilitating effects of his condition, Hill has now completed six of the Seven Summits, most recently Carstensz Pyramid on the Oceanic continent in April of 2007.

"The Seven Summits campaign grew from my love of sports, adventure and the outdoors. By taking it to the extreme, and on a global basis, I hope to show people everywhere that having these diseases or having an ostomy, like I do, shouldn't stop anyone from leading a full life," said Hill. "You may not be able to climb mountains, but there are so many other things that you can do."

He intends to complete his final summit, the biggest peak of all -- Mount Everest -- this spring. As a global ambassador of the Great Comebacks(R) Program, Hill travels the world, speaking with patients about his experiences and encouraging people to get out and conquer their own personal summits.

About the Great Comebacks(R) Program

Now in its third decade, the Great Comebacks(R) Program honors inspirational individuals who, by sharing their stories, give hope and encouragement so that others, too, can reclaim their lives and pursue their dreams. Sponsored by ConvaTec, a world-leading manufacturer of ostomy and wound care products, with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) and the Intestinal Diseases Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), the program also provides educational materials and support for patients facing the physical and emotional challenges of these debilitating diseases and transitioning to life after surgery. For more information, visit the program at

About ConvaTec

ConvaTec, a world-leading manufacturer of ostomy and wound care products with a heritage of caring about patients, is a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY). Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company. For more information, please call 800-422-8811 or visit

Note to Editors:

Photography of the Great Comebacks(R) National Award Dinner is available. For more information, please contact Etanjalie Ayala at (212) 445-8225 or


(1) Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Organization Web Site. Viewed

at: Accessed February 22,


(2) Wolfe MJ. UOA Facts and Figures. Ostomy Association of Boston.

March/April 1999. In United Ostomy Association Inc. Evansville Indiana

Chapter Re-Route Newsletter. 2000 Oct;(28)1.Viewed at Accessed February

22, 2008.

Great Comebacks is a registered trademark of E.R. Squibb & Sons, L.L.C.

(C) 2008 E.R. Squibb & Sons, L.L.C.


Punnie Donohue Nimisha Savani Pete Paradossi

Weber Shandwick ConvaTec Bristol-Myers Squibb

Phone: 201-704-2263 Phone: 908-904-2522 Phone: 812-429-7413

SOURCE Great Comebacks
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