JA Aareness Stories

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profile for Kali R (Age 11) Kali R (Age 11)Yuba City, CAI fight forDaughter

Having Juvenile Arthritis at 18 months old, Kali doesn't know what it's like to NOT be in pain, sure there are good days and bad days but all days have some degree of pain. It was not until Kali was almost 4 that she was formally diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis... that's 2 and a half years of misdiagnoses, an array of unnecessary tests and driving more that 3 hours (one...

Having Juvenile Arthritis at 18 months old, Kali doesn't know what it's like to NOT be in pain, sure there are good days and bad days but all days have some degree of pain. It was not until Kali was almost 4 that she was formally diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis... that's 2 and a half years of misdiagnoses, an array of unnecessary tests and driving more that 3 hours (one way) on a regular basis to be seen by specialists. At now 11 years old, we continue to fight insurance issues and school accommodation issues... it feels like we are always fighting. Kali is the strongest person I know and I'm incredibly proud to be her mom and will continue to fight to find a cure!

profile for Michelle K (Age 7) Michelle K (Age 7)Billerica , MAI fight forMy daughter

Lyla was diagnosed with JRA after 3 months of antibiotics from an infection. Now under the care of an amazing rheumatology team and an amazing hospital, she is finally getting the right treatment.

Unfortunately with each follow up the ultrasounds continue to show fluid in her knee joint. Every day things like playing, walking, riding a bike can put her down for the count if she skips...

Lyla was diagnosed with JRA after 3 months of antibiotics from an infection. Now under the care of an amazing rheumatology team and an amazing hospital, she is finally getting the right treatment.

Unfortunately with each follow up the ultrasounds continue to show fluid in her knee joint. Every day things like playing, walking, riding a bike can put her down for the count if she skips her meds, and then there's the unpredictable fevers that come and go.

We have only just begun but are hoping for an end! No child should ever be in pain.

profile for Maggie C Maggie CUnion City, CAThis ismy fight

Hello Fellow Warrior and Supporters.

My name is Maggie and I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was only 13 years old. I am now 38 years old, married and with two young daughters.

The first symptom was a swollen middle finger, which my family and I thought was a minor sprain. The swelling did not get any better so my parents took me to the hospital and...

Hello Fellow Warrior and Supporters.

My name is Maggie and I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was only 13 years old. I am now 38 years old, married and with two young daughters.

The first symptom was a swollen middle finger, which my family and I thought was a minor sprain. The swelling did not get any better so my parents took me to the hospital and doctors ran some tests. When we were told it was JRA, we had no clue how my life would change. I was a young, energetic teenager. I was an active Hawaiian/Tahitian dancer. I continued dancing for another 4-5 years until my left elbow was affected. My doctors recommended surgery because the cartilage was deteriorating. The cartilage was replaced with a silicon so I was able to have some mobility. I couldn't dance anymore as I did not have the mobility to stretch out my left arm fully. I was depressed because I loved dance. Another 3 years later my right wrist fused because it was so swollen. I was off and on with medications. Some worked, some did not. I still continue to find the right remedies until this day.

As an adult, my JRA is now considered Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am continuing to find a healthier lifestyle, choosing the right foods and exercise. Although it has been a difficult and painful journey, I find motivation and strength through my children. They have truly lifted my spirits and its is because of them I continue to fight.

To all my RA and JRA Warriors: Stay Strong. Together we can fight this battle.

To my supporters: Thank you for all your unconditional love and support.

profile for Graci D (Age 12) Graci D (Age 12)Tipton , MOThis ismy fight

My name is Graci D and I was diagnosed at 4 with JRA. At the age of 7 after a tough battle with a flare I wanted to do something about my disease and I was ready to fight. I became involved in the Jingle Bell Run and the Arthritis Foundation and after only 5 years of fundraising I raised over $30,000, but I didn't stop there.

In 2015 I was given the honor of the Jingle Bell Run...

My name is Graci D and I was diagnosed at 4 with JRA. At the age of 7 after a tough battle with a flare I wanted to do something about my disease and I was ready to fight. I became involved in the Jingle Bell Run and the Arthritis Foundation and after only 5 years of fundraising I raised over $30,000, but I didn't stop there.

In 2015 I was given the honor of the Jingle Bell Run National Youth Honoree and that year alone I raised $10,700. This was the year a two year remission would end as well and my disease became more aggressive. However, I wanted to do more and was given the opportunity at the age of 11 in 2016 to testify on a bill that would help people dealing with step therapy within the state of Missouri. I quickly found my voice and during the senate hearing in HB 2029 I was very persuasive as to why this bill was important not only to me but for for the thousands of children in the state of Missouri.

This gave me courage and led to many media opportunities like appearing in the CBS Sunday morning news with my mom to bring awareness to the outrageous cost of the drugs needed to keep my JRA under control. I have made documentaries and many videos including one with my hospital which was picked up by a national TV show
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I have learned at a young age that just because you're a kid it doesn't mean you can't make a difference. I have spent two years now in Washington DC along with other young advocates talking with my representatives and senators about health care for those living with all forms of arthritis including our veterans. In 2017 at the DC Summit I was recognized for my dedication by being awarded the 2016 Emerging Leadership award from the Arthritis Foundation.

I have chosen not to allow my JRA to define me but to take control of it by becoming involved by fundraising, advocating, and raising awareness. I am only 12 and have worked hard to become a great JA warrior for not only myself but others.

profile for Jennifer C Jennifer CPetaluma, CAI fight forMy Son - Shane

Our oldest son, Shane, was diagnosed with poly JIA at the age of 10. The 6 months prior to Shane's 10th birthday saw us visiting our pediatrician on a regular basis. After months of tests and various specialists, we received Shane's diagnosis of JA. During our first rheumy visit I was told about the Arthritis Foundation. I immediately went home and checked out the San Francisco office's website....

Our oldest son, Shane, was diagnosed with poly JIA at the age of 10. The 6 months prior to Shane's 10th birthday saw us visiting our pediatrician on a regular basis. After months of tests and various specialists, we received Shane's diagnosis of JA. During our first rheumy visit I was told about the Arthritis Foundation. I immediately went home and checked out the San Francisco office's website. I found the video of a camp for JA kiddo which I watched and sat and cried. I told Shane, the following summer, I would make sure he went to this camp.

Never in a million years did I imagine our lives would be turned upside by major medical issues for either of our kids. I decided to be proactive from the start and got involved in any way I could. We started Shane's walk team - Team Shane ~ Bazinga!, our whole family volunteers at our local AF events. Our lives were forever changed after attending our first conference in Washington DC back in 2011. We had a huge family and support system.

Seeing your child deal with so much pain, having to do so many tests, being poked on a regular basis for blood, taking countless meds just to help him feel somewhat normal... It changes you. Through his strength, I found strength. I learned to give him shots, when I really didn't want to but knew I had to, to help him feel better. He give me the strength and courage to raise awareness, to advocate for him and the 300,000 JA kiddo, to fundraise so they can find a cure.

Shane is my hero! I am a stronger person because he has shown me how to be stronger. #jawarrior #strongerthanja #Shanemysonmyhero

info about Jennifer C

Retweet: Diagnosed with JRA at 12, and still fighting now that I'm 30! #StrongerThanJA twitter.com/ArthritisFdn/s…

info about Arthritis Foundation
profile for Arlene M (Age 9) Arlene M (Age 9)Huntersville, NCI fight forMy granddaughter who has had JA most of her 9 years

Logan is a very active 9 year old thanks to Dr. Griffith who has taken good care of her medically and her wonderful parents who take the best kind of care of her.
Thank goodness for the wonderful medications that are available. My granddaughter can lead a normal life for a 9 year old.

profile for Nikki R Nikki RSt Louis , MOI fight forMy daughter Becca

Becca was diagnosed with JIA at 13 months. At 3 she developed uveitis. She is our fighter. Between weekly injections, infusions every 8 weeks, physical therapy, tons of doctors appointments she always handles therm with a smile on her face.

Our family is very involved with the Arthritis Foundation. We do so to help join the fight to find a cure. We also do so to help Becca not so...

Becca was diagnosed with JIA at 13 months. At 3 she developed uveitis. She is our fighter. Between weekly injections, infusions every 8 weeks, physical therapy, tons of doctors appointments she always handles therm with a smile on her face.

Our family is very involved with the Arthritis Foundation. We do so to help join the fight to find a cure. We also do so to help Becca not so alone. We have found so much support over the years. We are so thankful for all the support.

#StrongerthanJA #Needtofindacure

profile for Kristen O (Age 22) Kristen O (Age 22)Springfield, MOThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JRA at 18 months old. It's been an ongoing battle for as long as I can remember. I struggled in sports growing up...they were a huge part of my life that eventually I had to give up on a competitive level. For years my arthritis went unnoticeable on a daily basis, but now that I'm 22 years old, I notice it almost every single day. There are constant struggles that I face such...

I was diagnosed with JRA at 18 months old. It's been an ongoing battle for as long as I can remember. I struggled in sports growing up...they were a huge part of my life that eventually I had to give up on a competitive level. For years my arthritis went unnoticeable on a daily basis, but now that I'm 22 years old, I notice it almost every single day. There are constant struggles that I face such as pushing open heavy doors, walking long distances, opening jars, and exercising. Without the love and support of my friends and family, it would've been much more difficult getting through the tough times. I'm thankful for everyone in my life that constantly supports me, but there are so many people that are unaware of children with JRA. I just want to help spread awareness to those unaware, and those people like me that still don't know everything about their disease that there is to know and learn.

profile for Naudia M (Age 13) Naudia M (Age 13)West Point, MSThis ismy fight

It all started when I was 6 years old. I went to my mom one day and said my wrist was hurting. My mom thought boys were being too rough on me. That was not the case because one day I had to sleep at my grandma house and my leg started hurting. We realize it was swollen and hot. When my mom got off work she had to carry me to car and In the house. We went to the doctor after that and he told us to...

It all started when I was 6 years old. I went to my mom one day and said my wrist was hurting. My mom thought boys were being too rough on me. That was not the case because one day I had to sleep at my grandma house and my leg started hurting. We realize it was swollen and hot. When my mom got off work she had to carry me to car and In the house. We went to the doctor after that and he told us to go to Jackson to take blood and see what's wrong. She didn't find nothing so we stop going after a few times. We went back to out doctor and then we found what was wrong I had arthritis. Now from all that now I got anemia and go to several hospitals for my help. I encourage any one out there to don't give up and keep fighting cause if I can I know you can.

info about Naudia M (Age 13)

#DYK ~300,000 kids & teens are living with #arthritis today? These warriors prove every day they're #StrongerThanJAtwitter.com/i/web/status/8…

info about Arthritis Foundation
profile for Christina H (Age 41) Christina H (Age 41)franklin, VAI fight forMy daughter Harley

At 12 months old my daughter had a 3 week stay in the hospital and was diagnosed with SJIA. After a year of daily injections and several other meds she was in remission. She just had another stay in the PICU and we are trying other therapy options. She is a soldier fighting in a battle to win the war!

info about Christina H (Age 41)
profile for Courtney  B Courtney BTacoma, WAI fight forOur daughter Taylor

Taylor was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months of age. The joints it affects the most are her ankles, her knees, her right wrist, and the most damaged joint, her right jaw joint. Most days her joint pain is minimal to none, where it does not cause a problem for her mobility and her daily activities. When she is in a flare she has a difficult time doing the simplest of tasks...

Taylor was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months of age. The joints it affects the most are her ankles, her knees, her right wrist, and the most damaged joint, her right jaw joint. Most days her joint pain is minimal to none, where it does not cause a problem for her mobility and her daily activities. When she is in a flare she has a difficult time doing the simplest of tasks to you or I.

In the summer of 2014, she had a Le Fort osteotomy jaw surgery. After the 6 hour surgery, she came out with titanium plates and screws in her jaw. She was extremely swollen to the point, she could not shut her mouth for over 2 weeks.

To this day she still struggles with headaches, and migraines, and continues to have flares, but manages to be on the honor roll at her high school. Taylor is a very determined, focused, tenacious, competitive student that does not like her arthritis to get the best of her, but sometimes her body does not allow her to do what she wants it to do.

In the Spring of 2015 she announced she wanted to play Lacrosse, for her high school. After the major jaw surgery I was afraid to let her play worrying about injury. It took a lot of convincing from her oral surgeon and coach, but they helped us realize that she would be okay. She loves the crazy sport, and her spirit is happy.

Taylor's arthritis journey has been an interesting one, at times very frustrating, sometime a curse when she is in pain, and sometimes a blessing, as we have met so many special people along the way. Thank you for reading Taylor's story, we hope for a cure someday for our girl, and the many other people who suffer form arthritis.

profile for CESAR L CESAR LCUTLER BAY, FLI fight forMy granddaughter

My granddaughter Sophia Gonzalez, learned how to walk at nine months old, suddenly started to drag her leg at age two. At age two and a half, Sophia was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis! Over the next few years, she was in and out of doctors’ offices and on various different types of biologics. In her fifth and seventh grade years, she suffered especially bad episodes, which...

My granddaughter Sophia Gonzalez, learned how to walk at nine months old, suddenly started to drag her leg at age two. At age two and a half, Sophia was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis! Over the next few years, she was in and out of doctors’ offices and on various different types of biologics. In her fifth and seventh grade years, she suffered especially bad episodes, which resulted in her not being able to play with her classmates or participate in any physical activities. But with the help of physicians, school faculty, and prayers from her family and friends, she overcame it and is currently on mild daily biologics!!

In the beginning of her ninth grade year, her interest in arthritis grew more at which point she decided to do her science fair project on the effects of broccoli on arthritis. Sophia worked with ten adults suffering from a wide range of arthritic conditions and got amazing results. She was then selected to participate in the South Florida Science and Engineering Fair where she was awarded an honorable mention for her work and accolades from several medical professionals. She continues to do research in the field as part of other classes and projects. During last year’s summer and fall, she volunteered at Miami Children’s Hospital, serving the hospital that has helped her through her most difficult times. She recently became an advocate for the Arthritis Foundation through its Ambassador program.

Our entire family and I had been witnesses to her fierce fight and determination against J.R.A. but most important her unwillingness to be taken down by it and that is why we continuously support the Arthritis Foundation and their efforts in the fight against this dreadful disease. To the best of my knowledge she is finally in remission and in the next school year she will be on her way to another successful endeavor, enrolling in Loyola University Mariland to continue her studies.

profile for Jessica W Jessica WAnniston , ALI fight forLilly

Warning: This is going to be an emotional one. Yet, it is one of strength and not sadness.

Arthritis and Lupus awareness Month: A day in the life of both. I have Lupus and my daughter has Juvenile Arthritis.

Today, I headed off to my appointment at the clinic as I have been doing for over nine years. But, today something seemed different. Today, I noticed a lot more than...

Warning: This is going to be an emotional one. Yet, it is one of strength and not sadness.

Arthritis and Lupus awareness Month: A day in the life of both. I have Lupus and my daughter has Juvenile Arthritis.

Today, I headed off to my appointment at the clinic as I have been doing for over nine years. But, today something seemed different. Today, I noticed a lot more than normally. Normally, I drown myself in my phone to avoid the waiting room time but today I was nervous because I knew I was signing up for a clinical research trial that I knew absolutely nothing about. No information on the side effects, risks, or possible benefits but I knew that I have to be one of the few nationwide that will participate in this because I have a daughter who I want better treatments for. Today, I was anxiously more aware of my surroundings.

Today, as I looked around I notice that I am 1 of 2 people in the entire waiting area who is not on oxygen, not in a wheel chair, or without a walker. I am very observant that some of these people who are unable to get around are my age. I had the realization that, today, I am as healthy as I will ever be with a progressing disease as I waited.

Today, when I made it back to the doctor he greeted me by first name in a friendly manner before even seeing my chart. Today, I realized he knows me from his hundreds upon hundreds of patients because I’ve been coming almost 10 years and he is relying on my attendance of this clinical trial. He goes over the trials. I will qualify if my disease hasn’t progressed upon the return of my labs that will be taken. He tells me that I will be in Birmingham a lot. I will either be in-patient for bags of infusions and returning back and forth three times that same week or I will be coming every two weeks for five hours each trip for trial infusions of a new unreleased drug.

Today, I realized that is isn’t just my choice. It is my children’s too as they will be very involved because I am all they have. I am raising two kids alone and they will have to go through these trips with me. It doesn’t just affect me. It affects their lives too and I wonder if they can emotionally handle it. But, I know down deep that they will be so proud of their mommy. They will be proud that their mommy is trying to make a better future for Lilly and many more children.

Today, as I leave the lab department after what seemed like endless vials of blood work... IT HITS ME HARD! The biggest hit I've had so far... If something isn't done.. If a cure isn't found... Then my sweet LillyBugg will probably be using a walker by my age since it hit her hard so young! It hits me HARD! Picturing my little girl that’s full of life using a walker or oxygen tank or even a wheelchair by her 30s brought a single tear to my eye as I waited for the elevator to the parking deck.

Today, I know more than ever that volunteering for this is the right decision and the purpose God has given me.

Today, I did not know what I was going to post for Awareness but as I sit in the car inside the parking deck… I knew I had to share this. This is just one day, one moment, one decision, one appointment, and one single tear in a journey that we try and hide from others so many times. Today, is the healthiest I will ever be. Today, has to reach others.

Today, I hope that my day touches others and raises awareness. It’s more than one month. It’s our lives and sadly it’s not the easiest and my kids and I all fight it alone strongly. I will now head home to inject Lilly with a medicine I fear of the side effects affecting her immunity and fertility when she is older. But it lessens the pain so she smiles more, thus it’s worth it to see her be a kid. Today, is just a day that matters

info about Jessica W
profile for Kathie  C Kathie CDrums, PAI fight forDaughter

My daughter's arthritis started with a neck spasm one early morning when she was only 8 years old. It was so bad that I brought her to the emergency department. They really didn't figure out the cause of the spasm but did find multiple swollen lymph nodes and sent us home with antibiotics. From that point my daughter began having pain in her knees and ankles. Her primary doctor ran some bloodwork...

My daughter's arthritis started with a neck spasm one early morning when she was only 8 years old. It was so bad that I brought her to the emergency department. They really didn't figure out the cause of the spasm but did find multiple swollen lymph nodes and sent us home with antibiotics. From that point my daughter began having pain in her knees and ankles. Her primary doctor ran some bloodwork and referred her to a pediatric rheumatologist. We saw this rheumatologist for a few appointments and then her tmj also started hurting. She only had intermittent swelling so the doctor was unsure if it was arthritis or not. He referred me to a few specialists she checked out good at all but the maxillofacial surgeon. He said he was sure she had arthritis in the tmj and the rheumatologist didn't agree. Finally after 3 very long years we went for a second opinion. We met with her now rheumatologist and she was diagnosed by her second appointment after one MRI study. She has JIA and is ANA + so it's extremely important for me to make sure she gets to her eye examiminations. It's not an easy road for her but she's a fighter. The struggle to figure out what is wrong with your child is not always cut and dry. Sometimes you'll see that one doctor isn't a good fit. I would suggest finding a second opinion as soon as you feel uncomfortable in any situation or if you think your child isn't getting proper care.

profile for Jenna B Jenna BLas Vegas, NVThis ismy fight

I am Jenna (aka Bullet) and I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 18 months old. I pretty much have lived with pain of some sort all of my life even today. You get used to it. I used to get shots at home every week when my JRA was really bad. Shots don't bother me.

I am a doer. I'm not afraid to do or try anything. I go horseback riding, swim in the ocean, play on my school's volleyball...

I am Jenna (aka Bullet) and I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 18 months old. I pretty much have lived with pain of some sort all of my life even today. You get used to it. I used to get shots at home every week when my JRA was really bad. Shots don't bother me.

I am a doer. I'm not afraid to do or try anything. I go horseback riding, swim in the ocean, play on my school's volleyball team, play guitar, hike in the mountains with my dad and soon I'm going to learn how to surf. And I play softball.

Since I was 7 years old my dream has been to play softball in the Women's College World Series. Maybe I will go to the Olympics too. I will not let anyone or anything hold me back. I work hard and train all the time. I know I have to work twice as hard as most kids but I am okay about that. Even in times when others haven't believed in me I have believed in myself and my parents and special coaches (Jewell, Manny and especially Sharon) believe in me. Sometimes my fingers and my ankles hurt really bad. But I have to keep going.

I know that my JRA could go away or that it could get much worse. If my body fails me it will make my dream harder to reach. But I won't give up. You will see me on TV one day playing in the Women's College World Series just like Coach Sharon.

I hope other JRA kids will see me then and realize that they can do it too.

info about Jenna B
profile for Christina P Christina PPearl, MSI fight forMy son and my daughter

My name is Christina and I am a mother to 4 beautiful kids, 2 of whom have JIA. My 5 year old son, Jonathan was diagnosed about two and a half years ago. At first he only had one joint effected, his knee.

After the swelling in his knee down two of his fingers became effected. Today Jonathan is in unmedicated remission. My 2-year-old daughter was just diagnosed last month (April), she...

My name is Christina and I am a mother to 4 beautiful kids, 2 of whom have JIA. My 5 year old son, Jonathan was diagnosed about two and a half years ago. At first he only had one joint effected, his knee.

After the swelling in his knee down two of his fingers became effected. Today Jonathan is in unmedicated remission. My 2-year-old daughter was just diagnosed last month (April), she is still within the first 6 months and already has five joints effected (knees, ankles, and one toe). It is very difficult for her to walk, especially in the mornings. She is in so much pain. She wants to be just another kid and play with everyone but she hurts all the time. We are just beginning this journey with her so it remains to be seen what can and will be done to help her.

profile for Clint F (Age 7) Clint F (Age 7)San Tan Valley , AZI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter, Marlee, was diagnosed with JA at the tender age of 18 months old. Now seven years old, my sweet "Mo" (as I call her) has never known complete relief from the arthritic pain that is so debilitating.

At times I catch myself wondering what would have been had Mo been spared this burden? How would her toddlers years have been different had she not been so heavily medicated and...

My daughter, Marlee, was diagnosed with JA at the tender age of 18 months old. Now seven years old, my sweet "Mo" (as I call her) has never known complete relief from the arthritic pain that is so debilitating.

At times I catch myself wondering what would have been had Mo been spared this burden? How would her toddlers years have been different had she not been so heavily medicated and in constant pain? How much more enjoyable would those first formative years of primary schooling been had her hand been able to write without pain, or her eyes better focus on reading (she has uveitis)? What if she didn't have to stop participating in competitive cheer and tumbling? What if she had been able to play in her soccer games as opposed to just spectating?


In the moments of everyday life it can be too easy to minimize the true impact this has played on Mo and our family. However, when all is considered, weighted, and accounted for, the price is steep. Our hearts have been broken over and over again as we have pursued any and all possible avenues of relief for our Mo in vain.

The more difficult aspects of all this are not getting discouraged, not blaming yourself as a parent for somehow failing your child, and for feeling so utterly helpless to step in and control the situation. Or watching your child struggle socially because she physically can't participate in typical recess activities, or hear her talk about how other kids treat her differently, or are apprehensive about befriending her because they don't fully comprehend her condition and are scared of it.

But the most difficult aspect has to be the impact it has on our Mo. Our precious Mo doesn't even know herself, her non-medicated, her non-hurting, seven year old self.

The struggle is very real, but one could never accuse our daughter of lacking resolve, determination, or courage. It is in this trial we see first hand the resilience that lies within our sweet girl. And because of her, we wake up each day with a stronger resolve, more determination and courage to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.

info about Clint F (Age 7)
profile for Janet O Janet OColumbia, MOI fight forMy daughter Kyleigh

Kyleigh was diagnosed at age 8 with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis after 9 months of low grade temps and vague symptoms. We'd been to many doctors often multiple times in a week before finally finding a doctor in an urgent care that recognized 6 weeks of joint pain with no known injury or cause. He performed x-rays which were normal, but referred us to a pediatric rheumatologist.

Kyleigh was diagnosed at age 8 with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis after 9 months of low grade temps and vague symptoms. We'd been to many doctors often multiple times in a week before finally finding a doctor in an urgent care that recognized 6 weeks of joint pain with no known injury or cause. He performed x-rays which were normal, but referred us to a pediatric rheumatologist.

Within a week we had MRIs and a confirmed diagnosis with active arthritis and previous damage in both knees, ankles and hands. She had immediate joint injections which helped for a bit; however her disease continued to progress with her needing to use a wheelchair or wagon for anything outside the house. She takes ongoing medications to keep her arthritis pretty much at bay.

Kyleigh has good days and bad days and now has other autoimmune diagnoses related to her arthritis. She's had the roughest year yet, but has maintained a positive attitude and is a light to all who know her.

The greatest thing we have done for her is getting involved with the Arthritis Foundation from the very beginning! We went to our first JA Conference just 2 months after diagnosis. We've been very involved ever since. We will be attending our 5th JA Conference this summer in Houston. Being involved with advocacy and the foundation has been the best therapy for Kyleigh. We love our Arthritis Foundation and JA family. This isn't what we'd wished for for our daughter, but we can't imagine this journey without the support we have received!! This is why we raise awareness and fight for a cure so that future families can someday say, "Do you remember when kids used to get arthritis?!"

profile for Marisol H Marisol HMiami, FLI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter was diagnosed at eight years old. The Arthritis began in her eyes and then it was diagnosed in her lower back and throughout her body, after she couldn't walk. It was heartbreaking to see her not be able to keep up with her brother at tag or with her friends any more and worse to hear her say it and to say "I just want to be normal again".

I couldn't take this away like I...

My daughter was diagnosed at eight years old. The Arthritis began in her eyes and then it was diagnosed in her lower back and throughout her body, after she couldn't walk. It was heartbreaking to see her not be able to keep up with her brother at tag or with her friends any more and worse to hear her say it and to say "I just want to be normal again".

I couldn't take this away like I could a fever nor was it going to go away on its own, like the flu. I feared for her future and would hear things like "you have to stay with her, you can't do that to the counselor" at camp and "is it contagious?" from other moms.

The Arthritis Foundation was a place I didn't know we needed. We discovered a family retreat where there was no judgement, only love and acceptance, and at The Walk, my daughter discovered a whole sorority was behind her as AOPPI helps her cause. I have felt empowered as I help raise awareness and funds to do something about my daughter's Arthritis.

profile for Jessica R Jessica RBurleson, TXI fight forMy daughter, Nicole

We fight for our daughter, Nicole. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis just a few weeks after her 4th birthday. She is now 6 years old. When she was first diagnosed she tried medicine to help with her inflammation and pain management. When this didn’t help, her rheumatologist (whom we LOVE) started her on a daily pain medicine along with weekly injections. This helped a great...

We fight for our daughter, Nicole. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis just a few weeks after her 4th birthday. She is now 6 years old. When she was first diagnosed she tried medicine to help with her inflammation and pain management. When this didn’t help, her rheumatologist (whom we LOVE) started her on a daily pain medicine along with weekly injections. This helped a great deal. Nicole has had one joint injection since being diagnosed. This was extremely painful and scary for her.

The past several months, her arthritis has been flaring up even more. At times, it’s gotten to the point where she is unable to walk due to swelling and pain. She gets very tired and cannot do activities for an extended amount of time, without having to stop and take breaks. Recently, her doctor added a new medication (a biologic via weekly injection). It’s very sad, as a parent, to have to give our young daughter two injections each week on top of her daily medications. Nicole has been so very brave.

In the past, she has always done well with her injections and blood draws. Recently, she has started to wonder and ask why she has arthritis? And why she has to get so many shots? We just tell her it’s because God knows she can handle it because she’s so brave. We’ve cried together and prayed together so many times. It amazes us how brave and tough our little Rockstar can be! She is such a trooper! We still pray for a cure!

info about Jessica R
profile for Kylie  M (Age 15) Kylie M (Age 15)Hauppauge, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at age 8, then with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome at age 13. Through the years I've been on injections and infusions of many forms of chemo and biologics.

I am currently able to participate in varsity cheerleading and dance at my school, as well as the music ministry at my church. I'm also a high honor student....

I was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at age 8, then with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome at age 13. Through the years I've been on injections and infusions of many forms of chemo and biologics.

I am currently able to participate in varsity cheerleading and dance at my school, as well as the music ministry at my church. I'm also a high honor student. I am #StrongerThanArthritis! Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation for conferences and camps for showing me that I'm not alone, and for introducing me to my best friends!

@amymjeffers Sending positive thoughts your way today. ❤️ #StrongerThanJA

info about Arthritis Foundation
profile for Evan S (Age 27) Evan S (Age 27)Latham, NYThis ismy fight

Some of my earliest memories are of my experiences with JRA. I was diagnosed around 3-4 years old. I remember near constant joint pain, debilitating to the point where I didn't want anyone to touch me. I even asked my dad to get me a walker.

Throughout elementary and middle school I struggled to have enough energy to stay awake in classes because I'd have a fever and sluggishness...

Some of my earliest memories are of my experiences with JRA. I was diagnosed around 3-4 years old. I remember near constant joint pain, debilitating to the point where I didn't want anyone to touch me. I even asked my dad to get me a walker.

Throughout elementary and middle school I struggled to have enough energy to stay awake in classes because I'd have a fever and sluggishness around the same time each day (roughly 1-2 pm). I loved sports but sports didn't necessarily love me. I played year round soccer and hockey most of the year. I slowly had to stop playing all sports by the time I reached high school because the pain outweighed the enjoyment. I remember having a really difficult time just walking up the stairs.

Most of my treatment was stretching and taking prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. One of the most difficult parts of JRA was trying to get through school, dropping out of sports, and my friends wondering why. JRA was very personal and I did not like to share it with many people which made the conversations difficult. At 27 I still have symptoms but they have subsided a bit. The one thing that has surprised me at this stage, after being involved in therapy, is how it has effected my mental health. It's important to explore all avenues of your JRA and how it effects your body and mind.

profile for Karol S (Age 53) Karol S (Age 53)West Hollywood, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 13. That was...MANY years ago now. I was scared and in terrible pain all the time. My JRA affected every joint in my body.

My journey with arthritis has been pretty challenging. I've had to have a lot of surgery. But despite that, I live an independent life and am generally pretty happy. My struggle has made me a strong, determined, and...

I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 13. That was...MANY years ago now. I was scared and in terrible pain all the time. My JRA affected every joint in my body.

My journey with arthritis has been pretty challenging. I've had to have a lot of surgery. But despite that, I live an independent life and am generally pretty happy. My struggle has made me a strong, determined, and resourceful human being.

The worst part of having arthritis as a kid was how horribly alone I felt. I didn't meet another young person with arthritis until I was 21. I'm so glad kids diagnosed today have lots of ways to connect with others kids struggling with arthritis. The newer medications now available also mean kids diagnosed today will likely not suffer as much damage as I did, and for that, I'm truly grateful.

profile for Tanya P (Age 43) Tanya P (Age 43)Fort Worth, TXI fight forAutumn

My daughter Autumn was diagnosed at 15 months. Our Rheumatologist was retiring and told us there were great things happening at Scottish Rite Hospital for children. We applied for a scholarship and Autumns case was severe enough that she was accepted. We packed our things and moved to Dallas! She started taking medication and a supplement. This has worked for her and she turned 17 last week! I...

My daughter Autumn was diagnosed at 15 months. Our Rheumatologist was retiring and told us there were great things happening at Scottish Rite Hospital for children. We applied for a scholarship and Autumns case was severe enough that she was accepted. We packed our things and moved to Dallas! She started taking medication and a supplement. This has worked for her and she turned 17 last week! I am happy to say that she is well today besides normal aches and pains. We went through quite a few flares, were on to the next chapter!

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profile for Pauline A (Age 5) Pauline A (Age 5)Toa Alta, PRI fight forMy daughter Valentina

My daughter name is Valentina, she started sysptoms at 10 months with an initial diagnosis of atypical kawasaki. After reapeated flares and hospital stays every time she got an infection at 18 months she started limping and the oficial diagnosis came of SJIA. The last 4 years has been a roller coast of emotions, medical appointments, medications, hospital stays and complications. But no matter...

My daughter name is Valentina, she started sysptoms at 10 months with an initial diagnosis of atypical kawasaki. After reapeated flares and hospital stays every time she got an infection at 18 months she started limping and the oficial diagnosis came of SJIA. The last 4 years has been a roller coast of emotions, medical appointments, medications, hospital stays and complications. But no matter what, this little girl always keeps in great spirit and hopeful one day she doesn't have to take any medicine and be able to go to school with her friends!! She is my warrior and together we will fight and find a cure!! #SJIAWARRIOR

Retweet: AOΠ is so thankful to have the privilege to attend the @ArthritisFdn's JA Conferences! #StrongerThanJAtwitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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profile for Shaine M Shaine MGrand Rapids, MII fight forMy daughter Hayden and son Liam

My daughter Hayden was diagnosed at the age of 2. She ia now 6! Within 6 months of diagossis it spread to almost all her joins. My son Liam was also diagnosed at the age 2. He is now 4. Lucky his didn't spread as fast as his sister's. They both have systemic. They both are stronger then i ever could be. They truly are my hero's!!!

profile for Juliana C (Age 8) Juliana C (Age 8)Lincoln, NEI fight formy daughter

Juliana Pearl was diagnosed with JIA at the age of 5. She is now currently taking infusions every 4 weeks. She does not let anything slow her down. Juliana has found a sport that keeps her moving and she loves (swimming). Juliana feels most sore in the mornings. Her ankles, feet and hands hurt the most. Juliana has had steroid injections, tried 3 previous medicines that did not work and...

Juliana Pearl was diagnosed with JIA at the age of 5. She is now currently taking infusions every 4 weeks. She does not let anything slow her down. Juliana has found a sport that keeps her moving and she loves (swimming). Juliana feels most sore in the mornings. Her ankles, feet and hands hurt the most. Juliana has had steroid injections, tried 3 previous medicines that did not work and shots weekly. She is currently on 5 medications. Winter time and when it rains is the time she is most in pain. Its been almost three years now and Juliana my little warrior seems like she handles arthritis better then I do from the sidelines.

profile for Amanda B Amanda BFredericksburg , TXI fight forMy son Ethan

My son Ethan was diagnosed with Uveitis at the age of 8. Every test that doctors performed looking for a cause came up negative, and the uveitis was labeled idopathic. He was immediately started on oral steroids to try to control the inflammation. Soon after other immunosuppressive drugs and biologics were attempted as well, but to no avail. Ethan's Arthritis did not show up until he was 11...

My son Ethan was diagnosed with Uveitis at the age of 8. Every test that doctors performed looking for a cause came up negative, and the uveitis was labeled idopathic. He was immediately started on oral steroids to try to control the inflammation. Soon after other immunosuppressive drugs and biologics were attempted as well, but to no avail. Ethan's Arthritis did not show up until he was 11 years old. It started in his knees, and required a brace to correct a contracture along with physical therapy. Stronger intravenous biologics were tried, and have controlled the joint inflammation, but the inflammation in his eyes remains. He has a port now to make his infusions easier. He is now 12 years old. We are hoping a different biologic he starts this week will get the uveitis under control and save his precious vision. Ethan's parathyroid glands have also been destroyed by his immune system and he will have to take calcium supplements for the rest of his life. The damage to the parathyroid glands has caused him to have multiple kidney stones as well. Ethan has been through so much at such a young age. But he is a fighter. I hope others will learn about JIA and the struggles that children like Ethan face on a daily basis.

profile for Ash R Ash RBradenton, FLI fight forJoseph (8)

It all started after 16 days in NICU. Premature 33 weeks. Our son was released from the hospital, we could finally take our baby home. Shortly after leaving the NICU, our son started to run high fevers. Spinal tap, after spinal tap. He would be released. Always running high fevers without being sick or showing signs of illness.

This continued.. We made it to 2 1/2 years old. He woke...

It all started after 16 days in NICU. Premature 33 weeks. Our son was released from the hospital, we could finally take our baby home. Shortly after leaving the NICU, our son started to run high fevers. Spinal tap, after spinal tap. He would be released. Always running high fevers without being sick or showing signs of illness.

This continued.. We made it to 2 1/2 years old. He woke up unable to walk the pediatrician had no clue that simply he has injured himself. We went for an Xray. Shortly after he received the results and was rushed to the local children's hospital or the following morning he received surgery. They still weren't sure, so they took biopsies. To confirm arthritis. Also a rare infection called Kingella(sorry possibly spelled wrong) and osteomyelitis. Cast and PICC Line.

We went home. To follow up infectious disease and the rheumatologist. Test after test after test my son has now behave at this point guinea pig. The frustration is unbearable pain the sun was in was overwhelming. Nothing a parent would ever want their child to go through and would rather take the pain away for them but couldn't so you stand helpless and help the nurses and doctors hold your child down. Fast forward--- my son has an amazing doctor. A wonderful doctor who fights for our son. Our son is doing well but the unknown of a flare-up is the most frustrating part as a parent. My son BMX's dirt bike rides, plays in the pool and lives his life like a normal child just as he should. Arthritis has nothing on our warrior. We pray they find a cure. We need a cure! Not medications. A cure!!

profile for KAYLIE C KAYLIE CADDISON, TXI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter woke up one Saturday morning with a knee as big as a baseball bat and very red. At first she said it didn't hurt and I asked her if she feel or hit it which she said no. I then called my mom, which was the only other person she'd been with and asked the same questions. She hadn't fallen or gotten hurt in any way. A few hours later was when she said it started hurting. the next day her...

My daughter woke up one Saturday morning with a knee as big as a baseball bat and very red. At first she said it didn't hurt and I asked her if she feel or hit it which she said no. I then called my mom, which was the only other person she'd been with and asked the same questions. She hadn't fallen or gotten hurt in any way. A few hours later was when she said it started hurting. the next day her knee and swollen even bigger and she was whining in pain and limping. I could not watch this anymore. On Monday we went to the doctor's office and they said it looked like a viral infection-build up of fluid on her knee. They took some blood work and said to give her OTC pain medication for the pain until the blood work could come back to confirm. Only when it came back, she was negative for an infection, which lead the doctor to say it may be arthritis and we needed to see a specialist. Two days later we had the referral and drove 4 hours to see the closest specialist. After several weeks it was determined that my 1 year old 3 weeks before her 2nd birthday has arthritis in her Left knee and right ankle. They ended up giving her a steroid shot under her kneecap, I will never forget the pain of hearing her scream down the hallway. Thankfully, she is almost 5 now and has been in remission for 2 years, but we live knowing any day it could come back, she has lost some mobility in her knee and will always have this with her. I hate knowing she's okay now but as she grows and gets older this will only get worse.

profile for Laura D Laura DAddison, ILI fight forMy daughter

My daughter, Molly, is 16 years old and has been fighting RA for 13 years as she was only 3 when the high fevers started. They were followed by salmon spots and of course, joint inflammation and pain. For many years, nothing worked and only large doses of steroids helped which has caused another slue of health issues that just keep seeming to have the domino effect as she suffers from...

My daughter, Molly, is 16 years old and has been fighting RA for 13 years as she was only 3 when the high fevers started. They were followed by salmon spots and of course, joint inflammation and pain. For many years, nothing worked and only large doses of steroids helped which has caused another slue of health issues that just keep seeming to have the domino effect as she suffers from cataracts, short stature, scoliosis etc. We have tried soo many medications and she has even participated in a drug trail which also failed.

The good news is that her current cocktail of medications are keeping her arthritis controlled at least for the time being and we have been very blessed to have an awesome rheumatologist who has fought very hard along with our family to provide the best care available. We are also fortunate to have access to a children's hospital not too extremely far away.

Through it all, Molly is an awesome teenager, getting straight A's in high school and gets up everyday and gives it her all. She also has a lot of fatigue at times, especially on days when she goes to the hospital for her treatments.

I'll continue to fight for her, advocate for the arthritis foundation, and fundraise in hopes that a cure can be found and more medications developed. I also hope to see the day when insurance companies don't require extreme testing and/or mandate which medications are used.

profile for Miranda G Miranda GWake Forest, NCThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at just 18 months old after several months of my parents trying to find a doctor who would listen. I have never known a day without chronic disease, without pain, without powerful medications that bring awful side effects. Some days were good, and other days I couldn't walk.

I was just a kid. A kid who didn't understand why I had to endure such...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at just 18 months old after several months of my parents trying to find a doctor who would listen. I have never known a day without chronic disease, without pain, without powerful medications that bring awful side effects. Some days were good, and other days I couldn't walk.

I was just a kid. A kid who didn't understand why I had to endure such awful medications, frequent doctors appointments, hospital visits, infusions, and painful procedures. The medications lowered my immune system and I suffered with frequent illnesses and infections that were more difficult for me to overcome.

Throughout my childhood I learned how to cope with this disease. I learned how to find strength through all the pain and how to make a positive impact through all that I had to go through.

What I never expected, though, were the challenges I had to face in how others responded to my disease. Pain is invisible. Looking from the outside in, you would never know how much pain I was in or how sick I was feeling from the chemotherapy injection I had taken the night before. Because of this, I was met with many people who didn't understand.

Teachers who labeled me as a "hypochondriac" for being sick all the time. Teachers who yelled at me for having to miss school to be at the hospital to have my joints aspirated and injected with steroids. I was once even given a bad grade in gym class because I wasn't allowed to participate due to the high level of inflammation in my joints. It didn't matter that I had a note written from my doctors. It didn't matter that I was a kid who would never use my arthritis as an excuse not to do something; rather, I would often push myself past my limits because I hated the fact that this disease limited me. None of that mattered. I was given a bad grade for not participating despite being unable to and having proper documentation of this.

Even after improving and being cleared by my doctors to participate again, I was bullied by this teacher who would make comments to the rest of the class such as "this machine is lower impact on your joints, but that doesn't matter to you all because only old people get arthritis." I was being bullied. Not by a child, who didn't know better, but by an adult, simply because they could not visibly see my challenges and my pain and therefore I had to be making it all up.

I am an adult now. Still fighting every day with this disease. I fight for all the kids who are walking the path that I had to walk. Unfortunately, my story is all too common. Kids are bullied, by children and adults alike for having a disease that is out of their control. As if the daily pain and other struggles they face aren't enough, they are met with criticism for having a disease that is often not seen and therefore believed to be "made up."

That is why I fight. For all the kids too young to fight for themselves. If we can bring more awareness for the children of arthritis, maybe they can go through life met with understanding from their peers rather than made to feel as though they have done something wrong.

info about Miranda G
profile for Teagan Teagan New Harbor, METhis ismy fight

I am 8 years old and I am in 2nd grade. I have had Juvenile Arthritis for 6 months. I have my joints hurting on my wrists, fingers and ankles. I have to have shots once a week and I have to have blood taken every 2-3 months. Right now I have to take yucky medicine and have a pill every day. If you have Juvenile Arthritis I hope you don't let it stop you from doing anything you love. I love to...

I am 8 years old and I am in 2nd grade. I have had Juvenile Arthritis for 6 months. I have my joints hurting on my wrists, fingers and ankles. I have to have shots once a week and I have to have blood taken every 2-3 months. Right now I have to take yucky medicine and have a pill every day. If you have Juvenile Arthritis I hope you don't let it stop you from doing anything you love. I love to go horseback riding and doing gymnastics. And I don't let it stop me from doing anything!

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profile for Megan F Megan FHudson, OHI fight formy daughter, Anna

This has certainly been a journey, with its ups and downs mentally, physically and emotionally. I started this journey with my youngest child, Anna. Anna was diagnosed with JRA at about two years old.

As I think about my story and Anna's - it is truly one of courage and persistence. I draw inspiration and strength each day from Anna. She is an active (most days) 13-year old...

This has certainly been a journey, with its ups and downs mentally, physically and emotionally. I started this journey with my youngest child, Anna. Anna was diagnosed with JRA at about two years old.

As I think about my story and Anna's - it is truly one of courage and persistence. I draw inspiration and strength each day from Anna. She is an active (most days) 13-year old child. For most of her life, this disease has not stopped her from doing something completely - there will be days and even weeks where she is sidelined, but she's never given up - until this past year. Her body was telling her she was just not able to continue to play a sport she had once loved at a high competitive level - so she walked away. The pain and exhaustion brought a dislike for the sport into her life - which was truly sad to see. But Anna being Anna, didn't give up - she found another activity to try.

Anna always finds the positive out of this disease - she loves her nurses and enjoys going in for treatments just to see them, she has met numerous friends from all over the country at JA Conferences, she is excited to talk with members of Congress each year, and as she says she has become friends with the wonderful staff at our local AF office. If she can find and focus on the positives through this journey - then so can I. I hope and pray for a cure for each and everyone of those suffering from this disease.

info about Megan F
profile for Rebekah  F Rebekah FCameron, SCI fight forMy Daughter, Shaye

Shaye was diagnosed with JRA (now JIA) at 18 months old, with it affecting just her left knee. She is now 7 years old and has had inflammation in both of her knees, ankles, elbows and one wrist. She has tested positive that it could go into her eyes, but THANKFULLY it hasn't!

She has gone under so many treatments for her "starter" knee (steroids, fluid drawn off, etc) and been such...

Shaye was diagnosed with JRA (now JIA) at 18 months old, with it affecting just her left knee. She is now 7 years old and has had inflammation in both of her knees, ankles, elbows and one wrist. She has tested positive that it could go into her eyes, but THANKFULLY it hasn't!

She has gone under so many treatments for her "starter" knee (steroids, fluid drawn off, etc) and been such a trooper that she has been an encouragement and rebuke to me and my husband. She stays active with ballet, tap and softball and loves to play anything outdoors, swim and doesn't let anything get in her way. Even on her worst days, she trudges through with a smile and doesn't let it stop her. We have seen that heating pads and warm baths help on those days though, when the playing is done- or sometimes before it can begin :)

I often think about the future and how she will be affected, what life will be like for her or even what life would have been like if her diagnosis had not been caught. Without treatment, I truly believe, she would not be doing as well as she is today.

info about Rebekah  F
profile for Vicky Vicky Millbrook, NYI fight forEmma, Scott, Leanne H., Jess, Jill, Roger

Emma was 15 when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. It was both a blow and a relief to discover that she had arthritis. We had a name for what ailed her, which meant we could start treating it. The blow was that it wasn’t going away. She’d have it for the rest of her life. She would have a dreaded ‘pre-existing condition’ and it would be with her for the rest of her life.

Emma was 15 when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. It was both a blow and a relief to discover that she had arthritis. We had a name for what ailed her, which meant we could start treating it. The blow was that it wasn’t going away. She’d have it for the rest of her life. She would have a dreaded ‘pre-existing condition’ and it would be with her for the rest of her life.

By the time she was diagnosed, Emma was in bad shape. Every day she woke up with a new joint that was swollen and painful to move. And it was taking more and more time for the achiness and stiffness that wracked her entire body every morning to dissipate. We would wake her by packing her body in warm compresses to get her limber enough to get into the shower and ready for her 7:30 a.m. classes. Her pain and immobility were worsening fast. We looked forward to seeing a pediatric rheumatologist. We thought we’d find a cure and put all this business behind us.

While the cure eluded us, we eventually found a treatment that works.
Emma is now 22 and in much better shape. Against all odds, she successfully completed college and will soon have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. We are so proud of her. She takes medication that keeps her symptoms at bay. But the ‘pre-existing condition’ label is squarely on her shoulders. She has to see a rheumatologist every few months. She has to make sure she always has medication and it’s expensive. Right now my insurance company covers the cost of that medication. We don’t know what will happen next year or the year after that. The specter of loss of coverage hangs over us like the sword of Damocles. The uncertainty of what will happen to health care in the U.S. and the proposal to make care for people with pre-existing conditions unaffordable causes enormous anxiety, stress and loss of productivity.

Emma once said that she has arthritis but arthritis doesn’t have her. She has so much to offer the world. I hope that our country can see that and do the right thing by her and all the people battling every day with arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

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profile for Mary D Mary DNew Providence , NJI fight forMy amazing daughter!

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. She is now 16. She has pushed through the effects of this disease as much as she can. She continues to push forward everyday in ways people without arthritis can't even imagine! After two knee surgeries and and constant doctor's appointments to manage this disease, her smile continues to shine through it all. The best advice I can give family and...

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. She is now 16. She has pushed through the effects of this disease as much as she can. She continues to push forward everyday in ways people without arthritis can't even imagine! After two knee surgeries and and constant doctor's appointments to manage this disease, her smile continues to shine through it all. The best advice I can give family and friends of those with arthritis is to keep the support going and never stop! Even on the good days, be there! Don't every stop supporting from the little things to the big! Help keep your loved one smiling through it all!

profile for Emily  N Emily NSidney, OHI fight forMy daughter Antoinette

Anna, or as she wants to now be called by her full name, Antoinette is 8 years old. Antoinette was diagnosed at just under 3 years old with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

My 8 year old was saying her bedtime prayers this week and was begging for a medication and to go back to infusions so her hips and back wouldn't hurt so bad. As a mother, sitting by her side, listening to her little prayer...

Anna, or as she wants to now be called by her full name, Antoinette is 8 years old. Antoinette was diagnosed at just under 3 years old with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

My 8 year old was saying her bedtime prayers this week and was begging for a medication and to go back to infusions so her hips and back wouldn't hurt so bad. As a mother, sitting by her side, listening to her little prayer for MEDICATION made me weep. She should be praying for sunshine so she can run outside and play or for a new doll or something that has nothing to do with hospitals or IVs.

Anna is selfless. She is part of a study at the National Institute of Health so she can "help other kids someday not hurt so much". Her inflammation continues to worsen despite all of the medications she has tried. We need new medication. The insurance company won't approve the meds that have worked for adults with AS because they haven't been tested in children. She is an 8 year old living with an adult disease. We need research and donations for new medications.

I will never stop fighting for Antoinette and all of those who struggle with arthritis.

info about Emily  N
profile for Brianna  Brianna E, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with J.R.A when I was five years old, over time as I grew the name changed to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, I have gone through many challenges that I have to face head on, but having this has changed my perspective on life. I look at it as something positive even when I have to keep it under control. Arthritis is very unique to have, I understand on trying different medicines to...

I was diagnosed with J.R.A when I was five years old, over time as I grew the name changed to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, I have gone through many challenges that I have to face head on, but having this has changed my perspective on life. I look at it as something positive even when I have to keep it under control. Arthritis is very unique to have, I understand on trying different medicines to see what will really work for me that I already tried at a very young age and some did work and through the process I found myself being allergic to them, so always look at the affects of these medicines. The advice I would give you is, stay in good communication with your Rheumatologist and do your research as well too see what can help with lowering your inflammation rate. I understand fully, if nobody gets you because they don't understand your in pain or they think arthritis is "nothing" when actually it is something important that you yourself are always going to have to take care of, the reason why I say this is because I was once told that arthritis is "nothing", that fuels me the criticism that I get told when they don't know what goes on behind the scenes of my battle with arthritis. Sharing my story that this is my fight, my battle, my win. Always believe that one day you will be in remission.

profile for Krista J (Age 10) Krista J (Age 10)San Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis when I was about 7 years old. I knew something was wrong when I was little. I was adopted when I was 3 and no one knew much about my history so we begin to look for answers.

At the age of 4 I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. My stomach does not empty the food I eat like it should and I don’t absorb the vitamins. I can’t eat and...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis when I was about 7 years old. I knew something was wrong when I was little. I was adopted when I was 3 and no one knew much about my history so we begin to look for answers.

At the age of 4 I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. My stomach does not empty the food I eat like it should and I don’t absorb the vitamins. I can’t eat and drink certain foods and I have to take vitamin supplements. My gastroenterologist, was amazing and although I was doing better, she knew there was something more and referred me to my rheumatologist.

It all made sense. The arthritis affects my wrists, fingers, hips and ankles. I would sometimes wake up limping because my hip hurt and no one knew why. Doctors would say it was a pull, or just “growing pains”. My arthritis makes school hard for me. I have trouble writing and my fingers and wrists get tired faster than other kids. It is hard to read my writing. I can’t hold my pencil for very long without it hurting. If I walk for long distances I get tired and my legs hurt from the arthritis in my hips and ankles. Sometimes the teachers just don’t understand because I look and act like any other student and you cannot tell anything is wrong.

I have received many years of physical and occupational therapy. We tried medications to help make my arthritis better but they didn’t work, so about once a year my doctor puts me under anesthesia and gives me injections of steroid and antibiotic directly into the joints of my wrists and ankles to make them move better. It makes a huge difference for a while, but wears slowly over about 10 month’s time. Then we do it again.

This year I got involved with the Arthritis Foundation. I want to help raise money and awareness for other kids like me who are living with arthritis. he Arthritis Foundation offers classes and information for my family and can help my teachers understand better too. Last year I got involved in pageants. When I won my current title, I knew this was also a way to bring awareness to Juvenile Arthritis. I like to act, sing and dance. I like to jump on my trampoline and make music videos with my friends.

Living with arthritis isn’t always easy. I can’t hold my arms up for a long time without tiring and I can’t jump as long without breaks, but I want others to know that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

info about Krista J (Age 10)
profile for Lindsay S (Age 40) Lindsay S (Age 40)Ada, OKThis ismy fight

At the age of 2 (1976), both of my knees became red and swollen and I stopped walking. Several doctors said I was too young for it to be JRA. After testing me for everything under the sun, they relented and diagnosed me with JRA. I was started on various medicines.

My first surgery was done when I was in second grade. My pediatrician started me on shots. I spent a month in the...

At the age of 2 (1976), both of my knees became red and swollen and I stopped walking. Several doctors said I was too young for it to be JRA. After testing me for everything under the sun, they relented and diagnosed me with JRA. I was started on various medicines.

My first surgery was done when I was in second grade. My pediatrician started me on shots. I spent a month in the hospital when I was in 4th grade. I was started on a different medicine at that time. In 5th grade, I had my left wrist fused. In junior high, I would leave class 5 minutes early so I could make it to my next class on time. Someone left class with me and would carry my books for me.

Fast forward to present time and I've had 28 surgeries, died 3 times, been in the hospital too many times to count, and am on 17 medications. My life has been a trip of highs and extreme lows but I'm still here to share my story with anyone who wants to hear it.

I have a wonderful support system that consists of family & friends that always pick me up whenever I may fall. Living with JRA has been extremely difficult but the point is that I'm LIVING with it.

profile for Juliana F (Age 34) Juliana F (Age 34)Brasilia, TXThis ismy fight

I have juvenile arthritis for 24 years. I was diagnosed when I was 10. I live in Brazil and I have a Facebook support group for families of children and teens with arthritis. I fight for all the kids in Brazil to have a better life! This year I'm attending the Houston conference. So happy that I can bring new information and hope back home.

info about Juliana F (Age 34)

This is our fight! Join us during JA Awareness Month and learn how you can join the fight! #StrongerThanJAtwitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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profile for Shanoda  M (Age 25) Shanoda M (Age 25)Millbrook , ALThis ismy fight

Two years ago I was finally diagnosed with JIA after 3 years of struggling. As a child I had many of the symptoms of JIA, but I was not diagnosed until I was 23 years old. Doctors were puzzled and could not diagnose me as a child. Because I was an adult diagnosed with JIA, it was classified as Still's disease, which is the same as JIA, just found later in adulthood. Since my diagnosis, I am...

Two years ago I was finally diagnosed with JIA after 3 years of struggling. As a child I had many of the symptoms of JIA, but I was not diagnosed until I was 23 years old. Doctors were puzzled and could not diagnose me as a child. Because I was an adult diagnosed with JIA, it was classified as Still's disease, which is the same as JIA, just found later in adulthood. Since my diagnosis, I am taking treatments, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.

I have months with remission, and months with flares. It can be a struggle. Somedays I need help but l have an amazing support system. My mom and family are always there to help me.

Most people without this disease have a hard time understanding it, but I make it my mission to stay strong. I live to be an example to those who are younger and struggling with this like me. Please know that you can be and do whatever you want. I am in college and I am living my dream of becoming a teacher. I still can drive myself, hang out with friends, hike and do so much more. Do not let your illness stop you from becoming the person you want to be.

profile for Tara B Tara BMcSherrystown , PAI fight forMy daughter, Abigail

From a 4 year old little girl who struggled for a year with pain & multiple doctor's appts, to a 5 year old kindergartener with a diagnosis but still couldn't run or play & had to get weekly shots, to a 9 year old preteen who does dance, basketball, cheerleading & swimming & is now in remission! This is why she is strong! This is why we fight! #JRAwarrior

profile for Stephanie  K Stephanie KHuntington Woods, MII fight forMy daughter Izzie

My beautiful, vivacious, spunky, 11 year old daughter Izzie was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis exactly a year ago. She was experiencing intermittent swelling and pain in her ankles and after months and months of seeing various doctors, we finally got in to see an amazing pediatric rheumatologist in Ann Arbor, MI.

He diagnosed her immediately and everything she had been...

My beautiful, vivacious, spunky, 11 year old daughter Izzie was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis exactly a year ago. She was experiencing intermittent swelling and pain in her ankles and after months and months of seeing various doctors, we finally got in to see an amazing pediatric rheumatologist in Ann Arbor, MI.

He diagnosed her immediately and everything she had been experiencing finally made sense - why she was so uncomfortable standing for longer than a few minutes, why her legs wouldn't straighten fully and always looked puffy, why she took so long to ride a bike.

She was out on an anti-inflammatory with the hopes it would be enough to push her into remission. It wasn't, and a series of steroid injections in her joints brought her some relief-temporarily. Unfortunately, since diagnosis she has also been diagnosed with scleroderma and has been receiving infusions and injections to stop the progression of the scleroderma and help with the painful arthritis symptoms.

Through it all, Izzie has not slowed down for one single second. She dances 4 days a week, is part of a competitive dance team, goes to overnight camp for a month every summer, hangs out with her friends, and keeps us all laughing all the time. She has a moment here and there where she feels a little sad about the IVs and the shots, and the mouth sores she gets from the medication, but then she shakes it off and pushes forward. She amazes me. She refuses to let JIA get in the way of doing what she wants to do. She refuses to let it slow her down. She is the strongest person I know she is truly a #JAWarrior. I am so very proud to be her mom!

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profile for Jaime J (Age 13) Jaime J (Age 13)Ellwood City, PAI fight forMy son Noah

My son Noah was diagnosed at 19 months with JRA. It started in his knee and over the years has spread to both knees, both ankles, both feet, and 1 shoulder. He gets frequent rashes, fevers, and hot swollen red joints. When Noah is feeling well he loves to ride his bmx bike.

He does get his joints injected often to help with the pain. He has tried many different types of medication....

My son Noah was diagnosed at 19 months with JRA. It started in his knee and over the years has spread to both knees, both ankles, both feet, and 1 shoulder. He gets frequent rashes, fevers, and hot swollen red joints. When Noah is feeling well he loves to ride his bmx bike.

He does get his joints injected often to help with the pain. He has tried many different types of medication. It is common for him to be on steriods, anti-inflammatories, and acid reflux medicine. Last year Noah had a severe flare that lasted 3 months. He had a fever daily and had to be carried to the bathroom. It was a very hard time in our lives. Every year since diagnosis, we raise funds for the arthritis foundation totalling $31,000. We have been to Washington DC and Harrisburg to advocate. Noah was the youth honoree for the Pittsburgh arthritis walk in 2016. Our goal is for Noah to be a national honoree someday.

Learn how the JA Conf. Houston brought us together to share, learn, and become warrior families:#StrongerthanJAtwitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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profile for Alana  (Age 3) Alana (Age 3)Lewiston, IDI fight forMy daughter, Alana

Alana was diagnosed with JA months after her second birthday. An active and spunky girl, Alana suddenly developed a limp and was unable to walk in the mornings. Alana was diagnosed with JA and immediately began treatment. Thus far Alana has underwent 5 surgeries for joint injections, takes daily pain meds, and is administered a weekly biologic medication in an effort to keep her pain free....

Alana was diagnosed with JA months after her second birthday. An active and spunky girl, Alana suddenly developed a limp and was unable to walk in the mornings. Alana was diagnosed with JA and immediately began treatment. Thus far Alana has underwent 5 surgeries for joint injections, takes daily pain meds, and is administered a weekly biologic medication in an effort to keep her pain free. Alana's JA is in all her major joints, with pain being most painful in the mornings prior to getting ready for school. Alana continues to show strength, determination and a positive mindset despite experiencing chronic pain. Her hobbies include dancing to salsa music and fishing. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

info about Alana  (Age 3)
profile for Elianna s (Age 12) Elianna s (Age 12)warner robins, GAThis ismy fight

It started when I was 3. I was in pain so my mom took me to the doctor. They said I had JIA. I couldn't walk or get out of bed. Then we moved to Georgia. I was 5 . There were specialists who prescribed many medications. Now I am 12 and it has been 9 years. I've learned to not let Arthritis stop me. Camp, paid for by the Arthritis Foundation has given me hope and joy. Please donate TODAY!

info about Elianna s (Age 12)
profile for Stella Y Stella YFort Worth, TXThis ismy fight

My name is Stella Yanda, I was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 7. My mother recognised my arthritis when my knees would swell and heat up after a PE program I went to. When I realized I had arthritis, i didn't completely understand what that meant in the way of my limits and the lifestyle I would have to adopt. Having arthritis means I have to choose what...

My name is Stella Yanda, I was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 7. My mother recognised my arthritis when my knees would swell and heat up after a PE program I went to. When I realized I had arthritis, i didn't completely understand what that meant in the way of my limits and the lifestyle I would have to adopt. Having arthritis means I have to choose what activities to do throughout my day, and it isn't easy. I can't play a lot of sports, and writing, drawing, and playing an instrument puts my hands in a lot of pain everyday. It is very important that others understand my arthritis so that I can get help, so that I can do more, and so we can help other kids and parents deal with this taxing disease. I say Yes to opportunities like this from the Arthritis Foundation because it is what I can do to fight my arthritis, and help others fight it too. When we say Yes together it is a powerful force, and across the country there is a huge snowball effect with this work. It's exciting, and It's getting things done. When you join us and say Yes you are giving us a voice, something that we can't do for ourselves. So thank you, from all the kids and parents, nurses and therapists, even the teachers and coaches that are champions of yes.

profile for Michelle K Michelle KAtlanta, GAI fight forMy son, Yoni

My son was diagnosed with systemic arthritis when he was 4-years-old. He decided early on that he could sit and be in pain, or her could go out and do what he wanted and be in pain--because the pain would always be there. He is the toughest kid I know.

He loves to skateboard, play hockey, and make things in his maker-space. He doesn't show his pain in public, but I am there when he...

My son was diagnosed with systemic arthritis when he was 4-years-old. He decided early on that he could sit and be in pain, or her could go out and do what he wanted and be in pain--because the pain would always be there. He is the toughest kid I know.

He loves to skateboard, play hockey, and make things in his maker-space. He doesn't show his pain in public, but I am there when he can't take it any more.

This year, he missed the second-half of 6th grade while he got both his hips replaced--the first in January, and the second at the end of April.

Throughout the every-2-week infusions, physical therapy, pain-management, and endless doctors appointments--he keeps his humor, his resolve, and his strength.

I fight for him, and all the kids like him.

profile for Kari M Kari MTucson, AZI fight forMy daughter Cassidy

Our daughter Cassidy (Minnie) was diagnosed with Autism in December of 2013, that’s when our world changed. We had therapists and appointments galore and just when things started to settle, she was diagnosed with Poly-articular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in August of 2014. Our world has not been the same since. Our oldest daughter, has made it her personal mission to raise awareness for JIA,...

Our daughter Cassidy (Minnie) was diagnosed with Autism in December of 2013, that’s when our world changed. We had therapists and appointments galore and just when things started to settle, she was diagnosed with Poly-articular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in August of 2014. Our world has not been the same since. Our oldest daughter, has made it her personal mission to raise awareness for JIA, even starting up a cookie stand here in AZ to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. Minnie is more than Mighty, she’s our HERO! At the current time, Minnie is 6, although you’d never know it by her activity level or “puffy” joints. Her favorite things are Minnie Mouse, Skittles after taking her daily medications and weekly injections, cuddle time, books, and her heating pad. This evil disease has taken away more than any of us would like to admit and it’s time we raise awareness and fund research to find a cause!

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profile for Kat C Kat CBirmingham, ALI fight forMy 3-year-old daughter.

When my husband was injured in combat whil serving in Afghanistan, I always said that nothing could be worse than what we went through- unless it was my child. Fast forward a few years, and we become the proud parents of a miracle baby, Alexandra Jayne ("AJ").

She has always been a happy child and developed on time, but around 2.5 years old we saw some changes with her climbing,...

When my husband was injured in combat whil serving in Afghanistan, I always said that nothing could be worse than what we went through- unless it was my child. Fast forward a few years, and we become the proud parents of a miracle baby, Alexandra Jayne ("AJ").

She has always been a happy child and developed on time, but around 2.5 years old we saw some changes with her climbing, walking, and running. She seemed to navigate stairs the same way a new walking small toddler might, did not like to run, and often complained of walking short distances and told us her knees hurt. She was withdrawing from play with other children and becoming quite fussy.

This was not the same girl who found her way on our kitchen countertops and dominated the classroom just a few months before. Her preschool teachers and grandmothers also noticed something wasn't quite right. In the months that followed, we swiftly worked with her pediatrician and a pediatric ortho, leading to lab work and just days after her 3rd birthday, she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

We were taught how to administer two medications by injection, and treatment began just a few weeks later. We are just beginning her journey, and we hold on to hopes for remission. She has an incredible pediatric rheumatologist, and more love than she could ever imagine. Even if this becomes a lifelong journey, I know that my brave girl will still push to do all the things she wishes to do and live a very full life. She will conquer life even if it looks a little differently. And those tired knees often find their way into Daddy's lap has zips around on his wheelchairs- and what view of the world could be better than that?!

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profile for Rachel F Rachel FWoodbury, MNI fight forMy Daughter

Our daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 3. And we began to give her medication. Since my husband had been previously diagnosed with food allergies to gluten and dairy, we decided to begin a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for our daughter.

After 3 months of medication and diet change, her arthritis went into remission. After 6 months of...

Our daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 3. And we began to give her medication. Since my husband had been previously diagnosed with food allergies to gluten and dairy, we decided to begin a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for our daughter.

After 3 months of medication and diet change, her arthritis went into remission. After 6 months of medication, tests showed that her liver was stressed. We stopped the medication but continued the diet change, and her arthritis was in remission for 5 years. She did flare again at the age of 9 - we do not know if it was just time or if we cheated on too much dairy. I know that not everyone with JRA can control it with diet changes but for our daughter no gluten and dairy does help.

Our family enjoys the going to the fair. But walking around the fairgrounds is hard for people with food allergies. Since summer of 2013 our family business Free Indeed Food has been making mini donuts that are gluten-free and do not have any of dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts or wheat in them.

profile for Timmian S Timmian SOlympia , WAI fight forCowan

Cowan was diagnosed at age 8 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He started waking up at night, crying because his hands hurt. We were lucky we saw a nurse practitioner that had completed a rheumatology rotation, and recognized his arthritis right away. We now see our rheumatologist quarterly, and have been able to get the inflammation in his joints under control. He hates getting injections...

Cowan was diagnosed at age 8 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He started waking up at night, crying because his hands hurt. We were lucky we saw a nurse practitioner that had completed a rheumatology rotation, and recognized his arthritis right away. We now see our rheumatologist quarterly, and have been able to get the inflammation in his joints under control. He hates getting injections weekly, and often asks why he has arthritis. It is heartbreaking. He is a very active boy, and loves to play all sports, particularly football and soccer. I fight for Cowan so he can live a "normal" life without a ton of appointments and medications.

profile for Alyssa H Alyssa HSharonville , OHThis ismy fight

My name is Alyssa, and I am 13-years-old. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I started complaining that my legs were hurting and a couple weeks later, my knee was really swollen. We went to my pediatrician and she noticed I had psoriasis on my swollen knee, so after x-rays and an exam, a rheumatologist told us I had arthritis. I had to get a really big shot in my knee to...

My name is Alyssa, and I am 13-years-old. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I started complaining that my legs were hurting and a couple weeks later, my knee was really swollen. We went to my pediatrician and she noticed I had psoriasis on my swollen knee, so after x-rays and an exam, a rheumatologist told us I had arthritis. I had to get a really big shot in my knee to decrease the swelling, and for almost three years, I was injected with my medication every Friday night to help decrease my joint pain and inflammation.

A year ago, my doctor told me I could start drinking my medication instead of getting it injected. I like this much better! I had my most recent appointment in April. My rheumatologist doesn't want to stop my medication yet (to test if I'm in remission), because she wants to wait for my growth plates to fuse. The good news is she hasn't increased my dosage in four years, and I showed no signs of psoriasis, swelling, or pain.

The impact of my arthritis on my daily life is it does not affect my life too much. I am very lucky that my arthritis isn’t too severe. I mean, some people cannot even walk. I am very lucky, because I am not as disabled as some people with arthritis except for the following reasons.

One way I am disabled is I cannot participate in all physical activities. I am not able to do push-ups. This actually works to my advantage, since I really hate to do push-ups. Another disability that I would say is a disadvantage is I can’t participate in track, which is actually a physical activity I really wanted to do when I was younger, but now it’s too much pressure on my knees.

A final impact arthritis has on my daily life is sometimes I just have a sudden jolt of pain in the locations of my arthritis. That can definitely affect my daily life, depending on how much the pain hurts. These are some of the ways arthritis affects my daily life.

My family started a team called Alyssa's Angels to fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation and their annual Cincinnati Jingle Bell Run and Walk 5k. Every year we try to come up with creative ways to fundraise, like holding bake sales, making angel magnets, hosting a book exchange, hosting a "Minute to Win It" Tournament, and hosting an annual raffle, silent auction, and Stella and Dot jewelry party.

It makes me feel good to fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation! Hopefully there will be better medicines invented soon to make all the pain of arthritis go away!

info about Alyssa H
profile for Jerry D Jerry DRiverside, CAI fight forMy grandson Carter

Carter was diagnosed at the age of 3.

About Carter:

Carter is a shining force, radiating happiness and hope which he shares with everyone who touches his life.

Fascinated by superheroes, Carter is definitely his own superhero. It’s hard to believe that he has lived with pain and constant medical attention from Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis which was diagnosed...

Carter was diagnosed at the age of 3.

About Carter:

Carter is a shining force, radiating happiness and hope which he shares with everyone who touches his life.

Fascinated by superheroes, Carter is definitely his own superhero. It’s hard to believe that he has lived with pain and constant medical attention from Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis which was diagnosed on January 6, 2014. Carter manifested symptoms of the disease in July 2013 which began with bouts of unexplained pain; now, while knowing the underlying cause brings its own relief, faced with a life-long disease for someone so young is a big task for a little guy and his family. Yet, Carter has retained his silly personality and big heart. His curious nature drives him to constantly seek knowledge and store it in his amazing memory.

Carter can be summed up through his favorite Bible verse: “I can go through all things through Christ that gives me strength.”

Team Carter:

The goal of Team Carter is to raise donations for better treatments, to raise awareness about the disease and to help find a cure. We do so by riding in The Arthritis Foundations California Coast Classic 525 Mile Bike Ride For A Cure in Carter's honor.

To support Carter and his team or to get more information on the ride go to TeamCarter525m4aCure.com