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Inspiration Through Adversity

Doug with wife, Jacquie, and daughter, Isabella

Doug Yakich ’98 is one of over 1.4 million Americans live with a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC). But he doesn’t let it stop him from living a full, inspirational life.

Doug, who lives with Crohn’s disease, is one of nine finalists for the IBD Icons national competition, a campaign aimed at raising awareness of IBD “while celebrating the courage and persistence of people with UC or Crohn’s disease.” He was diagnosed with the disease just before his 17th birthday, and had to deal with the disease while studying sport management at Robert Morris.

“I had no idea the challenges this disease would have on my life while I was attending Robert Morris,” he says. “But despite those challenges, the support I received from late Dr. Susan Hofacre, Dr. Dave Synowka, and Dr. Scott Branvold, along with many other professors, allowed me to not only meet the challenges in the classroom, but to face this disease head-on.”

Just over a year ago, Doug underwent life-saving and life-changing colon surgery at UCLA. It was his fourth surgery in as many years.

Doug in D.C.

Despite these challenges, this past summer Doug found the courage to go Washington, D.C., where he spoke to senators and representatives about the disease, how it has affected him and his family, and why government support is vital in finding a cure.

“I will never allow Crohn’s disease to define me. I have never allowed it to change who I am or what I believe,” he says on the IDB Icons website ( “I can honestly say that having this disease has made me a better son, a better brother, a better husband, a better father, and most of all a better man.”

Now Doug is hoping to be named as one of two 2011 IBD Icons, so that he can continue to educate others about this disease and support the push to find a cure.

“It would be an honor to be recognized,” he says, “but I need the support of the RMU community and all of my friends and family to stuff the voting box.”

Cast your vote for Doug today! (Voting ends on November 1.)

There are no limits to the amount of times you can vote. For each vote received, Janssen Biotech Inc. will donate $1 to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), up to $10,000, toward IBD research and education.

The two IBD Icons with the most votes (one living with UC and one with Crohn’s) will win a trip for two to Las Vegas, where they will get to meet with American Idol contestant and IBD Icon, Casey Abrams, who will be performing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and ½ Marathon to benefit the CCFA.

Doug lives in Glendale, Calif., with his wife, Jacquie, and their 6-year-old daughter, Isabella. He is currently earning his Master of Science in Organizational Leadership through RMU’s online program. In his free time he enjoys photography.

Written by Valentine J. Brkich


Doug is another amazing example of how RMU students and alumni are changing lives every single day. Please support our students today by giving to the President’s Fund for Engaged Learning.

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