Awaiting the third of three surgeries related to his ulcerative colitis, Jake Diekman will be unable to contribute in the Rangers’ bullpen until the second half of the season, but the hard-throwing left-hander is using his time on the 60-day disabled list to help support others who suffer from this condition.
Jake was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the large intestine similar to Crohn’s disease, when he was 10-years-old, and has been playing baseball with the disease for about 20 years. About three years ago, Diekman decided it was the right time to go public with his condition and try to help others – especially children – who face similar challenges
So Jake and his fiancée, Amanda, teamed with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and coined the term ‘Gut It Out.’ Diekman got the phrase tattooed on his right wrist and in March of 2015, Diekman printed t-shirts displaying the slogan to help raise funds to fight this awful disease.
“I was like, this is enough, I’m tired of it,” Diekman said to The News Journal. “It [stinks] to see little kids that have it in the hospital and their bodies can’t handle it because their system is so weak that they’re in the hospital for three or four months at a time.”
According to Amanda, the shirts raised almost $18,000 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation in just a year and a half. The shirts were originally offered on a limited-time basis, but are now permanently available through Athlete’s Brand.
“I wanted to share my journey so that I could encourage people along the way,” Diekman told the Players Trust on Thursday. “It can feel really lonely and isolating and talking publicly and sharing my experiences helped me, and turns out, has helped others too. It’s been really cool to meet people who can relate to you and to help each other through.”
Diekman plans to release another new t-shirt soon after his final surgery next week.
Jake and Amanda are also considering other ways to raise money. The reliever, who tied for fourth in the AL in holds with 26 in 27 chances last season, recently launched a new Instagram page for Gut It Out, and in less than 24 hours, the account had over 700 followers.
“Having a place where we can all turn to each other for support, ask questions, raise awareness and funding for research is the goal and the reason behind working on my own foundation,” said Diekman, whose charitable efforts on Instagram can be found here.
Jake and Amanda have found that the social media platform has served them well in their outreach efforts to the ulcerative colitis community.
“We get so many messages from people that are longing for someone to talk to,” Amanda said.
“I’m excited to keep watching this grow and see what can come of it,” Diekman added.
To learn more about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, click here.
You can buy a ‘Gut It Out’ t-shirt, here!
Major Leaguers are #GoingToBat for causes near and dear to them, as they personify the Players Trust’s motto to ‘care, act and inspire.” To learn more about the charitable interests and activities of Jake Diekman and other Major Leaguers, please click here.