“This is not acceptable.”
Those were the words that burned in Phyllis Johnson’s mind, put a fire in her belly, as she sat on a pull-out sofa in Miami Beach, unable to do anything but hear the sounds of her son being sick, in the next room.
Dane Johnson, a world class Ford model and College of Charleston graduate, had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2003. This excruciating illness struck without warning, very nearly ripping his future away.
“These are often diseases of the young,” Phyllis says. “It is terrible to watch opportunities being taken from people just as they’re starting out in life."
It inspired Phyllis to become a tireless advocate, learning whatever could be learned about diet and nutrition in relation to Crohn’s and related conditions.
“I read everything I could find about the role that diet played,” she says. “We tried it all.”
They made amazing progress. Today, Dane is healthy and happy, and Phyllis credits finding the proper mix of diet and lifestyle changes with much of that. “Food is medicine,” she explains.
Later this year, the Crohns & Colitis Nutrition Foundation, of which Phyllis is President and Founder, will launch The Nutrition Heals retreat on James Island. Picture walking trails, a tidal creek and experts in health, nutrition and lifestyle therapy giving hands-on help to those who are most in need.
Those in need of funding – money desperately needed to cover anything from lab tests to daily nutrition support – are connected with donors through crowd-funding.
“I don’t believe my son would be where he is today if money hadn’t been available to get us through the tests and the trial-and-error.
Charleston is the perfect location, not only for its natural beauty and climate, but also because it is an oasis of education and entrepreneurship,” Phyllis says. “But my goal is to ramp up this industry in the U.S., if not the entire world. It’s so amazing when you see someone go from despair to a place of hope, confidence and empowerment.”
Words by: Jason A. Zwiker
Photography by: Karson Photography