What started from a simple Instagram message, has grown into a friendship with a higher purpose.
Noah Weber, 15 has teamed up with Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. to create 'Athletes vs Crohns and Colitis' - an organisation aimed at raising money and awareness to help others suffering with the disease, providing mentorship and support.
"How can I take someone with such a big platform and try and do good in the Crohn's and Colitis world, where no one has really taken charge of that yet. So I thought of this idea, Athletes vs Crohn's and Colitis," Weber said in an interview with CloseUp360.
After Weber was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 11, he found inspiration watching Olympic swimmer Kathleen Baker win gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Baker opened up about her struggle with the disease, thanking her doctors for helping her navigate things, leading to her achieving her ultimate goal.
It was from there, Weber looked up other athletes with Crohn's disease, which led him to Nance Jr, who at the time was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Weber hit Nance Jr's DMs on Instagram, sharing his story and offering his support, which led to a phone call from the NBA player where the pair shared their experiences and eventually linked up in New York when Nance Jr was in town to play the Knicks.
"After that first phone call, I was a totally different person, just being able to connect with someone who's gone through the same thing as you, made me realise I can do what I want, I can live a normal life as a teenager," Weber said
From there, Athletes vs Crohns was born, a partnership between the teenager and the NBA player to use their voices to help others.
"He changed my life, David Garrard [former NFL player] changed his life, so I wanted to try and find a way that we could just have so many kids personally touched by him, by having him co-found this organisation with me," Weber added.
"Being able to reach out to all these kids was definitely a good way for him to get involved with the Crohn's and Colitis community"
Watch the full interview here, via: CloseUp360.
Lance Jr hails former NFL player David Garrard as a 'hero' of his, finding inspiration in a professional athlete playing on the highest level and it's that same inspiration Nance Jr. hopes to pass on to other kids alongside Noah.
"For me, 'knock on wood' I've had a pretty 'I don't want to say easy' but my road's been ok so thus far, whereas Noah he's seen it all," Nance Jr. said. "He's had surgery, he's had different medications so between the two of us we kind of cover the broad spectrum of Crohn's and Colitis, so I think anybody we talk to, anybody that meets us, anybody that comes to your events we can relate to."
Weber and Nance Jr. have hosted multiple fundraisers, dinners and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments to award youth scholarships, raising money to help one day find a cure.
Their friendship extends beyond their charitable endeavors, with the pair regularly in communication and playing video games together, guiding each other along this journey.
"How Larry impacted me, he changed my life around, so being able to have just a little piece of that for other kids, to get our names out there, to inspire these younger kids to be able to play sports and do what they want, it means a lot to me and definitely to Larry because we both know how much having a mentor meant to us."
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