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Great Comebacks(R) Program Announces 2008 National Award Winner and Inaugural Tony Snow Public Service Award

Entrepreneur Lisa Becker and Army Pilot Robert Cuyler Honored for Comebacks from Ostomy Surgery

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Lisa Becker, a young mom and entrepreneur dedicated to improving the lives of other ostomates, was named this year's Great Comebacks(R) National Award recipient and Army helicopter pilot Robert (Bob) Cuyler was named the first recipient of the Tony Snow Public Service Award at a ceremony here this evening. Founded in 1984 by former San Diego Charger and ulcerative colitis patient Rolf Benirschke, the Great Comebacks Program celebrates the inspirational achievements of people who have overcome debilitating intestinal diseases, colorectal cancer and ostomy surgery.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a collective term for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans, many of whom are initially impacted when they are adolescents or young adults.(1) Along with colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease is a common condition that may lead to a permanent or temporary ostomy.

Each year, the Great Comebacks Advisory Committee recognizes people of all ages, from children to adults, culminating in the naming of the National Award recipient. The Tony Snow Public Service Award, named in memory of the former White House advisor and news broadcaster who was an Honorary Great Comebacks Award recipient in 2006, was created to honor extraordinary individuals who are passionate about serving their country while dealing courageously with debilitating intestinal diseases and ostomy surgery. The inaugural recipient, Bob Cuyler, currently on a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq, is the first U.S. Army aviator with an ostomy to fly in a combat zone.

The Great Comebacks Awards are sponsored by ConvaTec, a world-leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies for community and hospital care, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA) and the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS). This year, the Great Comebacks Program also welcomed Youth Rally as the new sponsor of the Comeback KidsTM Awards, recognizing children and teenagers who are leading active, productive lives while managing their Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or an ostomy.

"Tonight is a celebration of special individuals like Lisa and Bob, who, through their examples, provide encouragement and hope to others facing similar challenges," said Rolf Benirschke, founder and chairman of the Great Comebacks Program. "We also draw strength and learn from the legacy left to us by Tony Snow, who embodied the spirit of Great Comebacks. Tony spoke openly about his condition and was a tremendous source of inspiration for individuals with intestinal diseases, who were touched by his unbounded optimism, wit and candor."

"As a leader in ostomy care for more than 30 years, ConvaTec continues to support advocacy and awareness for people with an ostomy through programs like Great Comebacks," added Nino Pionati, President of ConvaTec Ostomy Care. "With our partners, we strive to bring together their voices - reaching out to those undergoing surgery and educating others about the quality of life issues vital to the health of our community."

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

Lisa Becker, 2008 National Great Comebacks(R) Recipient

Giving birth to a beautiful daughter, Anna, was something that Lisa Becker had not thought possible, given her long history with Crohn's disease, but it also brought on a flare-up of her condition of such severity that having surgery became a medical necessity.

The ileostomy she received also sparked a new career passion for the young mom and former financial analyst, starting a "fashionable" business that caters to helping fellow ostomates feel more confident in everyday life. As she recovered, one of Becker's biggest desires was to get back into her pre-surgery clothes and feel good about herself. For her, "Looking good helps you feel good!" and thus, ostomysecretsTM was born -- stylish, high quality, reasonably priced undergarments for male and female ostomates that help conceal ostomy bags.

Becker, 31, her husband Steve (whom her doctors and nurses nicknamed "super husband") and Anna live in Tampa, FL. "Having a stoma gave me the freedom to live a life that before surgery was filled with many limitations," she said. "I want to help other ostomates so they, too, feel in control and can fully start enjoying life again!"

Chief Warrant Officer Robert (Bob) Cuyler, Tony Snow Public Service Award Recipient

While piloting an Army helicopter had been his life-long passion, Bob Cuyler, a married father of two, was right up to the cut-off age for service before he made that dream a reality. Occasional intestinal flare-ups only slightly interrupted multiple tours of duty in hot spots like South Korea and Kosovo, until a major episode on a transatlantic flight led to his diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.

With his disease in remission, Cuyler regained flight status. Two tours of Afghanistan later, in July 2007, a devastating flare-up led to the removal of his entire colon. Now labeled "disabled" by military standards, he was determined to continue his military career. Buoyed by the inspirational Great Comebacks stories he had read while in the hospital, he convinced his doctors to delay his discharge paperwork, giving him time to regain his strength. About a year later, a 10-person aviation medical board cleared him for active duty and, in October 2008, he began his latest 12-month tour in Iraq -- becoming, by his research, the first U.S. Army aviator with an ostomy to fly in a combat zone.

"I have been very fortunate to be in a unit whose doctors and commanders didn't jump to conclusions," said Cuyler. "They gave me time to get well and based their decisions on my demonstrated performance."

Cuyler, 43, credits the support of his wife Tammy, who keeps the home fires burning in Hannibal, New York, as well as his daughter Megan and son Jared for giving him the strength and motivation to keep pushing forward. "I hope that my story will inspire or help open a door for other ostomates to pursue their lives, dreams and passions," said Cuyler.

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 inspiration and encouragement so that others, too, can reclaim their lives and pursue their dreams. Sponsored by ConvaTec, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA) and the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), the program also provides education materials and support for individuals facing the physical and emotional challenges of these debilitating diseases and transitioning to life after surgery. For more information, please visit

About ConvaTec

ConvaTec is a leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies that have helped improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. With four key business divisions -- Ostomy Care, Wound Therapeutics, Continence and Critical Care and Infusion Devices -- ConvaTec products support health care professionals from the hospital to the community health setting. From its headquarters in Skillman, New Jersey, the company oversees more than 8,000 employees in over 90 countries serving consumers and their health care professionals on six continents. For more information, please visit

About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA)

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation ranks third among leading health non-profits in the percentage of expense devoted to research toward a cure, with more than 81 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends going to mission-critical programs. The Foundation consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance ( and the American Institute of Philanthropy ( For more information, contact the Foundation at 800-932-2423 or visit

About the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA)

The United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA) is a national network for bowel and urinary diversion support groups in the United States. Its goal is to provide a non-profit association that will serve to unify and strengthen its member support groups, which are organized for the benefit of people who have, or will have intestinal or urinary diversions and their caregivers. For more information, please visit

About the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS)

The North American Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS) raises awareness of intestinal diseases through education and public awareness campaigns. IDEAS provides quality of life enhancing programs for children and young adults afflicted with intestinal diseases and their families. IDEAS conducts advocacy programs on behalf of all people living with intestinal diseases. For more information, please visit

About Youth Rally

For over 30 years the Youth Rally has been a place for adolescents with ostomies and continent diversions, or who are preparing for surgery, to come together and meet other young people who deal with similar life experiences. The annual summer camp operated by the Youth Rally Committee (YRC) strives to provide a positive support network that highlights independence and individuality as tools youths can use to regain confidence and a sense of belonging. For more information about the Youth Rally and this year's camp, please visit


(1) About Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. Accessed February 9, 2009.

Great Comebacks is a registered trademark of ConvaTec Inc.

Comeback Kids is a trademark of ConvaTec Inc.

All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

    Punnie Donohue                      Courtney Judd
    ConvaTec                            Weber Shandwick
    Phone: 908-904-2151                 Phone: 212-445-8365

SOURCE Great Comebacks(R) Program
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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