NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Andrew Belliveau, 20, from Lynn, Massachusetts, buried his face in a pie last summer and invited others to do the same in hopes of raising research dollars and awareness for gastroparesis.
"Gastroparesis is basically the stomach not emptying as it should," said Dr. Arun Swaminath, a Lenox Hill gastroenterologist. He said the disease is uncommon among those without advance-stage diabetes. He described it as a slowing or partial paralysis of the patient's digestive tract.
"You basically are living with the worst stomach flu imaginable," Belliveau said. "You don't want to perform social activities."
Doctors diagnosed gastroparesis in Belliveau in 2009 when he was 11. He remembers constant nausea, vomiting 10 to 15 times a day and feeling isolated by an illness he described as "invisible" to most around him.
He started the Gastroparesis Pie Face Challenge last summer following the model of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for the nonprofit G-PACT, which seeks to provide support for those suffering from digestive tract paralysis conditions.
"I could barely get my family and friends to do it," Belliveau said.
And then in December 2016, Red Sox five-time all-star Cy Young-winning lefthander David Price joined the challenge and passed it along to his Red Sox teammates, who accepted and pie face challenges started to circulate around Major League Baseball.
On Monday, Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius accepted Belliveau's challenge and forwarded it along to his teammates.
"His personality fits what the Pie Face Challenge embodies," Belliveau said.
Gastroparesis has no cure.
Belliveau received a gastric stimulator, which he described as a pacemaker for his stomach, five years ago. since then his symptoms have disappeared, he said. But the effectiveness of gastric stimulators vary from patient to patient.
"Hopefully Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez will take him up on it," Belliveau said.