Clara McNatt was diagnosed with celiac disease in October 2018, cutting a promising junior year cross country season short and adding a significant layer of anxiety to her daily life. Although she adapted quickly to the gluten-free diet, her heart went out to those 2.5 million people in the United States living with undiagnosed celiac and enduring symptoms every day. She feels that it is important to respect the disruption that celiac disease has on a person’s life and has worked to educate her community about how to support gluten-free individuals and make them feel safe.
One day at a coffee shop, she sat down with her friend Libby Reynolds, whose younger brother, Jonah, also has celiac disease, and they decided to become a CDF Student Ambassador team to try to make their high school and greater community more celiac-friendly. They called themselves “Sac for Celiac” (short for Sacramento) and began an Instagram campaign, made logos, and began planning ways to involve others in the effort. Clara’s senior project at C K McClatchy High School, a fun run to benefit the Celiac Disease Foundation, was Sac for Celiac’s first local event. She strove to answer common questions such as, “What is celiac disease?” “What is gluten?” and “What can/can’t you eat?” and to normalize celiac disease as something that much of the population deals with as part of life. She has raised over $1,800 to accelerate celiac disease research, education, and advocacy initiatives. She hopes to continue to spread awareness in college and get involved with more events to benefit the Foundation’s mission.