Great Comebacks® Program Announces 2006 National Award Winners

Author Sandra Benitez, and Tony Snow Honored for Their Inspirational Comebacks from Intestinal Diseases, Colorectal Cancer and Ostomy Surgery

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 8:00 am EST



Public Company Information:


WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sandra Benitez, mother, teacher and author from Edina, MN, was named this year’s Great Comebacks® National Award recipient, and White House advisor Tony Snow was named Honorary Great Comebacks Award recipient this evening at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1984 by former San Diego Charger and ulcerative colitis patient Rolf Benirschke, the Great Comebacks program recognizes the inspirational achievements of people who prevail over debilitating intestinal diseases, colorectal cancer and ostomy surgery. The awards dinner was hosted by program sponsors, ConvaTec, a world-leading manufacturer of ostomy and wound care products, and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

An estimated 1.4 million Americans are affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)(1), a collective term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition, 750,000 Americans are living with an ostomy due to either IBD, colorectal cancer or other chronic bowel or bladder diseases.(2)

“Tonight is a celebration of special individuals like Sandra and Tony, and the growth of a Great Comebacks community that offers support to every person living with IBD, colorectal cancer or an ostomy. Through her autobiography and her role as a Great Comebacks ambassador, Sandra provides hope and encouragement to the thousands of patients and their families who are facing the daily challenges of living with these diseases – this is the mission of the Great Comebacks program,” said Rolf Benirschke, chairman of the Great Comebacks Committee. “And Tony stands before us as a role model, exemplifying what the Great Comebacks program stands for by refusing to let long-term IBD and colon cancer limit his ability to succeed.”

Benitez was selected from among four other regional Great Comebacks recipients from across the U.S.:

* Northeast: Bob Baker, 45, Washington Depot, CT

* Mid-Atlantic: Thomas Rinkacs, 39, Laurinburg, NC

* South: Julie Vaughan, 36, Plano, TX

* West: Eric Hayes, 46, Carlsbad, CA

Each year, the Great Comebacks Program recognizes regional recipients who are living with inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and/or an ostomy. Recipients are chosen by the Great Comebacks Advisory Committee.

Sandra Benitez, 2006 National Great Comebacks® Recipient

Sandra Benitez’ perseverance and courage helped her accomplish her dreams while overcoming a 30-year struggle with ulcerative colitis.

In 1993, Benitez published her first novel, A Place Where the Sea Remembers. The following year, physically and emotionally drained, she underwent ostomy surgery. It changed her life by giving back what she thought she had lost: a happy, fulfilling, pain-free existence. She has since written four more novels including her first non-fiction book, a memoir about living with an ostomy, Bag Lady: The Triumphant True Story of Loss, Illness and Recovery. Her books have received critical acclaim and local and national literary awards, and have now been translated into six languages.

Among her most recent accomplishments, Benitez was recently named by Hispanic Business Magazine one of the top-100 most influential Hispanic women in the U.S. and awarded the prestigious Fellowship in Literature by the George Gund Foundation. Benitez personally considers tonight’s honor as the 2006 National Great Comebacks recipient to be among the most special to her. “This award is important to me because it combines my life’s passion, writing, with what has become my life’s work, improving the lives of other people living with an ostomy through my experiences as a patient and an ostomate,” said Benitez.

Tony Snow, Honorary Great Comebacks® Recipient

This year, the Great Comebacks program also selected White House advisor and former Fox News host, Tony Snow, to receive the Honorary Great Comebacks Award. Two years ago as a commentator for Fox News, Tony Snow learned he had colon cancer. As a long-time colitis patient, Snow knew he was at high-risk and took immediate action. Two months after surgery he returned to the airwaves, encouraged by the well wishes of his audience, and went on to become a White House advisor in April of 2006. Snow applauded “the technologies that were available to me that have me standing behind the podium today” when he took on this demanding and vital public role. Tonight, on the second anniversary of his surgery, he celebrates the doctors and medical advances that have helped him beat colon cancer and continues to view each day as “a blessing.”

“Support networks like Great Comebacks are important to help and recognize special individuals like Sandra and Tony, so that we demonstrate first-hand for people living with intestinal diseases that they are not alone and can make their own great comeback,” says Richard J. Geswell, CCFA President.

“Over our 20-year collaboration with CCFA, we have identified a wide range of inspirational examples of people living with IBD,” added Dave Johnson, President of ConvaTec. “These remarkable individuals, from all walks of life, are an inspiration to us at ConvaTec as we work to develop new and innovative technologies that enhance the quality of life for people living with an ostomy.”

More information on the Great Comebacks program and this year’s recipients is available at

About ConvaTec

ConvaTec, a world-leading manufacturer of ostomy and wound care products with a heritage of caring about patients, is a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY). Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company. For more information, please call 800-422-8811 or visit

About CCFA

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) mission is to cure and prevent Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis through research, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these digestive diseases through education and support. More than 80 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends goes to mission-critical programs. CCFA consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance ( and the American Institute of Philanthropy ( For more information, contact CCFA at 800-932-2423 or visit

CONTACT: Katie Martha, Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, 202-585-2037 (office), 301-996-9719 (cell),, or Adam Greenlaw, Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, 202-585-2226,, or Pete Paradossi, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 812-429-7413,


(1) Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Organization Web Site. Viewed at: Accessed August 25, 2006.

(2) Wolfe MJ. UOA Facts and Figures. Ostomy Association of Boston. March/April 1999. In United Ostomy Association Inc. Evansville Indiana Chapter Re-Route Newsletter. 2000 Oct;(28)1.Viewed at Accessed August 25, 2006.

Great Comebacks is a registered trademark of E.R. Squibb & Sons, L.L.C.

Note to Editors:

Photography of the Great Comebacks® National Award Dinner is available on the Great Comebacks® Program FTP site.

For more information, please contact Katie Martha at (202) 585-2037 or

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