22-year-old Andrew Belliveau, like the majority of young Massachusetts natives, is a diehard Boston sports fan. But unlike most, Belliveau has to come up to bat every day with Gastroparesis.
“I was diagnosed at age 10, and have lived with constant nausea and vomited 10-15 times a day for years,” Belliveau told Prime Time Sports Talk. “A few years ago, I got a gastric stimulator (pacemaker for stomach) that has helped control my symptoms. Unfortunately, the success rates of the device vary. Hence, no cure for GP.”
Gastroparesis’ effects vary from person to person, with the most common symptoms being nausea, vomiting, little to no appetite, and abdominal pain.
It was nausea and vomiting that made Belliveau live in constant fear when out in the company.
“The hardest part was the vomiting for sure. It’s just so isolating,” Belliveau said. “You are fearful of going out in public because you don’t know where the nearest bathroom is. You can’t enjoy normal functions like birthdays, holidays, going out to eat because you don’t want to eat and then vomit it up later on. Then, when you vomit in public or in school, it’s embarrassing. I remember having to run to the bathroom every 15 minutes to vomit at school and then come back and face the stares of my classmates. Although they understood, the stares take a toll on you after a while.”
Having taken an interest in the late Pete Frates and the impact he made from his famous “Ice Bucket Challenge,” Belliveau came up with his own challenge to raise awareness for his condition, dubbed “The Pie In The Face Challenge.”
“Being a few cities over from Pete Frates, and seeing what he accomplished for ALS, I thought I could do the same,” Belliveau said. “Little did I know how difficult it was. That was until I sent a tweet to David Price in Dec. 2016, asking if he would accept my challenge. A week later, he did. He then passed it on to several other Sox players and since then, the challenge has taken on a life of its own.”
Since the movement started, Pies have been thrown in 37 states as well as three different other countries by media personalities and celebrities. MLB and NFL players have participated.
Most recently, Belliveau challenged Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis to the Pie in the Face Challenge.
It’s 11:11.. I’ve been praying for a cure for #Gastroparesis for years. Maybe you can help me get 1 step closer to a cure. Here’s hoping your willing to accept my @gppieface nomination🤞@RedSox #RedSox #RedSoxNation #SmashGP #GPPieFaceChallenge pic.twitter.com/oKxCAXI3Xf
— Andrew Belliveau (@Jingle_BELLS_25) February 16, 2020
Chavis responded quickly.
— Chief Chavis™ (@MichaelChavis11) February 17, 2020
Belliveau, with the help of others with his condition, helped raised over $10,000 for G-PACT on a quest to find a cure for Gastroparesis.
There is one person more than anyone he wants to respond to his challenge.
“Tom Brady has been my guy since day one. He never takes no for an answer and everyone is always doubting him because of his age,” Belliveau said. “I’ve had people tell you that you would never be able to complete high school and college. My doctors would always tell me to stay home and rest but I was determined to go on with my life and that’s what I did.”
Today, Belliveau is a preschool teacher working on his Master’s Degree. Things that were thought to be impossible and still wants to raise awareness for a disease most are unfamiliar with, but still debilitating.
“Gastroparesis is not something that is spoken about enough,” Belliveau said. “I’ve been extremely lucky to receive the support that I have. But I’m determined to find a cure for this debilitating condition.”