Young Alumnus Achievement Award
Honors an alumnus' significant contributions to church, vocation, and community.
Carissa R. Haston '00
Sometimes we choose our battles, and sometimes they choose us. In Carissa Haston's case, an illness confronted her, but she is taking the initiative to fight back. Responding to the lack of information about her illness, gastroparesis, Haston founded the Gastroparesis Patient Association for Cures and Treatments (G-PACT), and organization dedicated to gastroparesis research and education. This nonprofit organization is rapidly growing through its contact with medical professionals, drug companies, and the media.
In 1994, Haston was diagnosed with gastroparesis, which causes a delayed emptying of food and liquid from the stomach, and developed prolonged heart arrhythmia as a result of medication taken. Her condition makes it a challenge for her to absorb necessary nutrients, and she has also suffered several heart attacks. After finishing high school in 1996, Haston met with another gastroparesis patient, providing a mutual social support structure for her.
Haston created a home page in June 2000 for gastroparesis patients. This lead to the establishment of an online support group in September 2000, which since has grown to be the largest online support group for those dealing with the disease. Through interaction with members of this group, Haston recognized the need for an information network tailored to gastroparesis patients, friends, and families. She founded G-PACT as a result, bringing together more than 600 people diagnosed with the disorder. Recently, G-PACT began working with a large drug corporation who is interested in supporting it, especially to raise awareness of the foundation and the disease it seeks to combat.
Haston lives in Lewsiberry, Pa., with her family.
Visit G-PACT's web site.