For many athletes, especially in the team-first world of professional hockey, going public with personal information outside of the confines of “here is my dog, here is an Instagram story of me playing Fortnite” is often a rarity.
Ontario Reign forward and Los Angeles Kings prospect Mikey Eyssimont has done just the opposite, however, as he’s come forward recently to speak about his diagnosis with Crohn’s Disease. Learning to deal with his diagnosis as an athlete has led to his involvement with the Athletes vs. Crohn’s & Colitis charity, which is the beneficiary of this year’s Ontario Reign 5K Run and Walk event.
Eyssimont, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s when he was in college, made the decision to go public with his diagnosis in part to help any other young people dealing with the issue, he told Jewels from the Crown in a discussion last Thursday. For some, a diagnosis of Crohn’s can be embarrassing. Talking about a medical diagnosis can be fraught in the first place, let alone discussing one that is so personal in nature.
But as Eyssimont came to terms with his diagnosis, he learned that he could be a very important voice for other young people dealing with the same thing that he’s gone through. So Eyssimont, with the support of his teammates, spoke out. His friends on the team, he said, have been very supportive of him, and he’s also leaned on veteran teammates like Matt Moulson and Brett Sutter, particularly when it came time to throw his support behind an organization like Athletes vs. Crohn’s & Colitis.
The organization itself was founded in January 2017 by Larry Nance Jr. and Noah Weber. Nance, an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Weber, a high school basketball player, teamed up after Weber read an article about Nance’s diagnosis with Crohn’s. The two connected via social media and a charity was born. The organization strives to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis, and hopes to help young athletes realize their potential in sports despite being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Nance and Weber, both diagnosed at a young age, know the importance of connecting young people with mentors who have dealt with the same challenges as they have.
While Eyssimont researched several different organizations, Athletes vs. Crohn’s & Colitis was the one that he connected with the most, particularly because of its focus on helping young athletes. He recalled hearing about Nance and his diagnosis while watching a Cavaliers game, further bringing more attention and awareness to the chronic illness.
Eyssimont says he’s in remission now and that his health overall is excellent, but is aware that this is something he’s going to have to monitor for the rest of his life. He’ll need to stay on top of his game with respect to eating right to keep his body in the best shape possible and to keep the illness in check. But Eyssimont is well-prepared to face any challenges that may lie ahead, and now, he’s ready and willing to speak out and be a role model for any other young athletes who need someone to look up to.
You can support the Ontario Reign and Athletes vs. Crohn’s & Colitis by participating in the annual 5K Run & Walk event. It’s being held on Saturday, March 30 at 8:00 a.m., with festivities kicking off at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Season ticket holders can register for $35; all others can register for $50. The fees cover entry to the race, a medal, reusable bag, and breakfast. Non-season ticket holders also receive a ticket to that night’s Reign game.
More information on registration can be found here.