CHARLESTON – In recognition of World Arthritis Day on Saturday, October 12, the Arthritis Foundation’s West Virginia Branch is kicking of a year-long education campaign to tell the real stories of West Virginia’s “faces of arthritis.”

Over 520,000 adults in West Virginia have been diagnosed with arthritis, or 36 percent of the state’s population. That figure is the highest arthritis prevalence in the U.S.  In addition, 1,600 children in the state have been diagnosed with arthritis and West Virginia has no pediatric rheumatologist.

 “Though most have someone they know who has one of the more than 100 forms of arthritis, there still are many myths about the chronic disease,” said Shannon Holland, Arthritis Foundation’s West Virginia Branch Director. “Our purpose in telling stories of real people in West Virginia is not only to help raise awareness but build strong support and resources for those living with arthritis.”

The West Virginia Faces of Arthritis educational program is supported in part by The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.


Take Elkview’s Brayden Elmore, 3. Diagnosed at age 2, his mom, Jenna Elmore, said she wishes that more people knew that kids get arthritis too.

“There are times when he is cranky in public and I just want people to know what a brave little boy he is. He can be in so much pain,” she said.  Because there are no pediatric rheumatologists in the state, Brayden’s parents and siblings travel with him to Cincinnati for his care.

Also, many people think of arthritis as minor aches and pains.  However, arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Arthritis can affect internal organs including the heart and lungs, often with serious consequences.

Such was the experience of Michael Facemire, of Elkview, diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis at age 16 while a student at Herbert Hoover High School. Now 18 and still facing some challenges, Facemire is pursuing engineering studies at WVU Tech while determined to live a full life.

Some people think that healthy young adults don’t get arthritis. But Julie Warden will tell you that is not true. She first experienced symptoms of what would eventually be diagnosed as palindromic rheumatism while she was a member of the West Virginia University track team. Currently the reigning Mrs. WV International, Warden, of Kenna, travels the state to educate people about arthritis and its impact on individuals, families and communities in West Virginia.


Brayden Elmore, Michael Facemire and Julie Warden – three West Virginia “faces of arthritis” – will be honorees at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Charleston on Saturday, December 7, 2013. The Jingle Bell Run/Walk is the state’s largest arthritis awareness and fundraising event. Teams are forming now. Register at:

To learn more about arthritis and Arthritis Foundation events, programs and services, visit or email or call 304-205-1510.

 About the Arthritis Foundation

 The Arthritis Foundation ( is committed to raising awareness and reducing the unacceptable impact of arthritis, which strikes one in every five adults and 300,000 children, and is the nation’s leading cause of disability.  To conquer this painful, debilitating disease, we support education, research, advocacy and other vital programs and services.

 Media interested in interviewing Michael Facemire, Julie Warden or Brayden Elmore’s mother, Jenna, please contact Shannon Holland at or 304-205-1510.




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