Ohio man with no colon to swim across Lake Erie raising awareness for Crohn's disease

CLEVELAND - For the past few years Ryan Stevens didn't have the energy to leave his family room.

"I lived for two years on my couch. Put that in quotation marks, where I couldn't do anything. I was just confined to my couch," he said.

The 40-year-old has Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease in which the intestine becomes inflamed and develops sores. He dropped 65 pounds from his 185-pound body. 

The medicine wasn't working and he was living a nightmare before he turned to Dr. Meagan Costedio. The colorectal surgeon operated on Ryan and removed nearly all of his 6-foot colon.

"Had he lived in a place where he didn't have access to a hospital and didn't have IV nutrition, he likely would not have survived," she said.

Ryan is now feeling so well he hopes to make a big splash. 

Weather permitting, the former college swimmer plans to swim across Lake Erie, 24 miles, to raise awareness about Crohn's disease. 

"Knowing where he was a couple of years ago when he weighed 120 pounds, couldn't do anything. Now he can do a lot. It's kind of a big deal," said Samantha Stevens, Ryan's wife.

Ryan plans to start his swim in Long Port, Ontario, Canada and finish in Northeast, Pennsylvania. He expects to swim for 12 hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. He admits he's never swam more than 12 miles before. 

Ryan will have two kayakers on either side of him keeping him on course and handing him food with a cabin cruiser leading the way.

"You don't have to put your life on hold, my message is that you can overcome," Stevens said while training on Lake Erie.

If you are interested in donating to Ryan's cause you can donate on his website, crohnsguy.com .

Print this article Back to Top