In many ways, Anissa Bredemeyer is a typical teenager. At age 14 she likes spending time with friends, reading a good book and playing with her Boston terriers. Yet Anissa is anything but typical.

If you look on her wrist, you just might spot her Supergirl watch. It’s a timepiece that carries with it a story of uncertainty which manifests into resilience and courage. Anissa’s mother bought her the watch as a gift to help her deal with unimaginable pain that consumed her younger years - pain for which no one seemed to have an answer. It all began when she was only 3-years-old. Doctors told her parents she had a bad case of the stomach flu. But the symptoms only intensified, triggering countless trips to the doctor and test after test. Anissa lived with relentless nausea and pain, robbing her of many childhood joys.

Desperate for answers, her family made the two hour drive from their home in Roanoke, Ind., to Indianapolis to see Joseph Croffie, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “We weren’t getting any real help until we went to Riley,” said Anissa’s mother, Angela Bredemeyer. “Dr. Croffie gave us faith in the medical field just when we had lost all hope.”

Dr. Croffie diagnosed Anissa with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease with no cure. “Dr. Croffie constantly worked on her case,” Angela said. “We knew he was not going to give up on her.” Testing also revealed Anissa had arthritis. Riley physicians worked in collaboration with Mayo clinic to find an effective combination of medications, and today, Anissa’s Crohn’s and arthritis are in remission.

Through this challenging chapter in her life, Anissa has displayed strength and poise. She raises funds for the Fort Wayne chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and dreams of becoming a pediatric gastroenterologist. “Through Riley, Dr. Croffie has inspired me so much,” said Anissa. “He has been there, always holding my hand and never giving up on me - never allowing me to give up on myself. I want to do that for other kids going through this.” Angela Bredemeyer has no doubt her daughter will do just that and more. “It is so amazing to watch Anissa grow and thrive. I’m not sure where we would be today if we hadn’t made the trip to Riley.”

If you happen to cross paths with Anissa, you don’t need to look at her Supergirl watch to see a hero. The real champion is right in front of you.

 
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