Michael Kerr, 17, is an 11th grader at Century Cyber Charter School in Lancaster, PA.
My name is Michael Kerr and I have been volunteering and doing advocacy work for the Arthritis Foundation for almost 5 years. I am 17 years old and was diagnosed with juvenile spondylarthropathy at age 13 after a severe flare up that started with flu-like symptoms and then later progressed to pain and swelling of several of my joints, ligaments and tendons. I have tried several medications but have
been unsuccessful in finding one that has made a definitive difference in my level of pain. I have an outstanding Pediatric Rheumatologist and am hopeful that with the progress that is being made thru research and the development of new medications that I will have a better future.
I attended Camp JRA for the first time when I was 15 years old and just completed my second year as a counselor-in-training. While at camp I learned the importance of becoming an advocate. Since then I have been involved in different fundraising events including being a co-chair to the Dog Walk on the 2006
Arthritis Walk, Lancaster, PA and helping out with the Applause! children’s fashion show in which my sister participated. My whole family attended the 2005 AJAO Conference in Rhode Island, and I am looking forward to attending and volunteering for the 2007 AJAO Conference in Hershey, PA.
I have enjoyed writing letters to our local representatives as well as local newspapers to advocate for kids like me who have a form of juvenile arthritis and ask for support for the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act. If passed, this Act could bring about more research that would lead to better treatments for people who suffer from arthritis. It could also give incentives for medical students to specialize in the field of pediatric rheumatology which has a severe shortage. With more pediatric rheumatologists, families who right now do not have access to one of these doctors could get their children the care that they need quicker and easier.
With all of my experiences as a volunteer and advocate with the Arthritis Foundation, I appreciate and consider myself lucky to get to work with people who are dedicated and passionate about helping those of us who have arthritis.