Sixteen-year-old Tyler Moon has raised more than $40,000 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America in the past five years, working with the foundation's central Ohio chapter and creating his own fundraisers.
He serves as an ambassador for Nationwide Children's Hospital, working with newly diagnosed patients who need someone to talk to.
For his work, the St. Francis DeSales High School junior has earned a Jefferson Award. He will head to Washington, D.C., for the national awards ceremony.
The Jefferson Awards recognize volunteers who do extraordinary things in their communities.
Moon, a Westerville resident, was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at age 9. He kept the disease quiet from his friends and schoolmates for years until he began addressing school health classes about the illness when he was 13.
He jumped into the cause, walking in the Take Steps Be Heard for Crohn's and Colitis walk that takes place in central Ohio each year. He's served as a captain for the walk and now serves on the board.
He has organized ice-skating parties and other fundraisers for the foundation.
"It's a disease that, one, so many people haven't heard of or don't know about and it's also a disease that a lot of patients suffer in silence," Moon said. "I decided after I was diagnosed that I didn't want to be someone who sits around and waits in silence."
While Moon said he's very excited about the trip to Washington, which is scheduled to include a visit with the president, he's focused on his work with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation and recognizes that there is still more to do.
"I will continue to volunteer as long as the foundation exists and as long as there's not a cure," he said.
Moon said his experience as a Crohn's Disease patient also has piqued his interest in pursuing a career in medicine.
"From all of my experience, I've learned how much of a difference it makes for the patient to have a good doctor," he said.
Moon was nominated for the Jefferson Award by his guidance counselor at DeSales, where he is a member of the tennis team, Italian Club, Ski Club, Math Club and National Honor Society and serves as a student ambassador.