Andrew Interview

A young woman in a #ysu-yellow cardigan smashing a Gastroparesis Pie Face Challenge pie in to an unsuspecting man's fac as he sits with a drink at his laptop.

#GPPieCreatorInterview

The creator of the Gastroparesis Pie Face Challenge is very busy getting celebrities to get creamy for GP, but we managed to track Andrew Belliveau down, though, and ask him what got him started on this sticky path.

Andrew comes from Boston, and saw at firsthand the difference the Ice Bucket Challenge made to ALS – not just in terms of donations, but when it comes to vital public awareness.  “It was started a few cities over from me,” he explains.  “I was inspired by The Buckets and thought how can I make something so simple and enjoyable for Gastroparesis?”

Andrew’s Eureka moment came at Christmas nearly two years ago when he was given a Hasbro board game called "Pie Face", where whipped cream gets flicked onto your face after so many turns of a lever.

“I saw people were posting Pie Face videos all over social media and thought this could be Gastroparesis' version of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  It's not only fun to do with friends and family but it's symbolic of Gastroparesis. 

Everyone with GP would love to eat a pie, but many can't. That's why you smash it in your or someone else’s face instead of eating it!”

Andrew hopes the challenge will accomplish three things.  The most obvious is raise awareness of Gastroparesis, which literally means ‘stomach paralysis’. 

The second is to work towards finding a cure.  Research is not keeping up with the needs of people with GP, and any donations raised for G-PACT will go towards remedying that. 

“Hopefully, through donations we can fund research and find a cure for this condition.”

His final hope goes beyond just creating a general knowledge among the public of the invisible illness.

Everyone with GP would 
love eat pie, but many 
can't.  That's why you 
smash it in your or someone else’s face instead 
of eating it!”

“I want the GP Pie Face Challenge to highlight to those who are uneducated on GP the struggles and horrible realities millions of people with Gastroparesis have to go through on a daily basis.”

Can’t be any better reasons than these to get creamy. 


Made A Pact
The donations for the challenge go to G-PACT, a small non-profit organisation conducting research and providing resources for patients not only with Gastroparesis but other Digestive Disorders too.

“Way back when I started this challenge I chose G-PACT as the recipient of donations,” Andrew recalls, “because my Gastrointestinal doctor was on the medical advisory board for them. 

Now I also know they’re a tight knit and helpful community and are very active in finding a cure for GP, so I tried to help them out as much as I could with the challenge!”

After suffering badly with Gastroparesis for three years, Andrew had surgery and in 2012 a gastric pacemaker was fitted. For some, even this procedure isn’t enough and it fails.  Was that the case for The Pie creator?

“My digestive status now is almost like I'm cured. Since the surgery, I haven’t had any flares.”  As great as this sounds, it doesn’t mean that Andrew is out of the woods, and this is not considered a cure (merely a management strategy) because success rates vary so much from patient to patient.  “I've been extremely lucky that it has worked as well as it has for me.”

We had one last question for Andrew before we left him to carry on with promoting The Pies. We asked all our Gastroparesis editorial special interviewees what they most wish people understood about living with GP. We put the same query to the fabulous Mr Belliveau, but made it a little harder for him.

“One thing?”

Yes.  Just one.  We knew it would be hard to choose because this illness, like so many, including the associated 
Ehlers-Danlos, Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders and Dysautonomia, changes every part of sufferer’s lives. 

“I wish people would understand the struggles we go through on a day-to-day basis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten blank stares from people when trying to explain to them why I can’t go out, or why I can’t do an activity, or just Gastroparesis in general.”

Here’s hoping the Gastroparesis Pie Face Challenge will do as well as The Buckets did, and Andrew’s wish may just come true.  Especially if he keeps persuading celebrities to get creamed for GP


Celebrity Smashers
It’s not just the likes of us ‘normal’ people who have got involved. Oh no! Andrew has had some success with celebrity smashers in the States – including eight Major League baseball players.  

“David Price, Brock Holt, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jnr, Chris Young, Rick Porcello of my hometown Boston Red Sox.” Andrew lists them, “as well as former MLB catcher David Ross from the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.”

That’s not all of the stars, though. David Cone of the New York Yankees and Mets fame and numerous radio and television personalities from the Boston area have joined in too.

So the only question left is when will you?

Written by #ysuWords.
Email media@youseeus.org for syndication permissions.
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