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In March of 2010, the Johnson family from Shepherdsville, Kentucky made the journey to Philadelphia thanks to a scholarship provided by the Arthritis Foundation to participate in the annual Juvenile Arthritis Conference. Leah Johnson had been living with arthritis since the age of 4 and was thrilled to have the opportunity to hang out with other kids her own age who also had arthritis. Leah’s parents, Toni and Kevin, were happy to know that Leah was receiving the best possible care by her pediatric rheumatologist who luckily lives just minutes away from their home. The reality that many parents must travel hundreds of miles to seek treatment for their child due to the national shortage of pediatric rheumatologists, is one that sheds light on the importance of the many efforts made daily by the Arthritis Foundation.

Toni left the conference feeling more confident than ever that Leah was receiving the best possible care. The Johnson family also learned about the latest treatments and promising research the Arthritis Foundation is helping to fund, while getting connected with other families in Kentucky who face the same challenges. While Leah’s best friend is in fact her rheumatologist, she made many new great friends and learned how to be an advocate for herself and other kids!

“I would recommend the conference to other families,” says Toni. “It’s good to see you are not in this fight alone. There is a lot of support and information out there for the taking!”

Click here for information regarding the 2012 Juvenile Arthritis Conference!

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