West Virginians to Make a Difference at Juvenile Arthritis Conference

Families in West Virginia are particularly challenged when it comes to caring for children with juvenile arthritis (JA). The state is one of 11 with no pediatric rheumatologist. To raise awareness and make a difference in their state, families are getting involved.

Several West Virginians will travel to California to attend the JA Conference on July 18-21, 2013 in Anaheim. Learn more about the conference which draws families from across the United States: http://www.arthritis.org/resources/community-programs/juvenile-arthritis-national-conference/

The Wright family, of South Charleston, is among those packing their bags. Next month Ayla Wright, 6, her brothers, Brennan, 5, and Kaleb, 19, along with her parents, Lesli and John, will attend the conference for a second time.

“Being able to attend the JA Conference is an opportunity for my daughter to meet and interact with other children who are just like her! As her parents, it gives us the ability to learn everything we can about our daughter's disease as well as raise awareness for JA,” said Lesli Wright.

Ayla’s story was featured in the first Great Lakes Region JA e-newsletter. Read it here: http://www.arthritis.org/west-virginia/advocacy-in-west-virginia.The family will share their experiences on Wright’s blog One Day at a Time found here: http://lesli-onedayatatime.blogspot.com/.

Julie Warden, Mrs. WV International, will send a video greeting to all families participating in the annual conference dinner. Warden, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, uses her personal story as a platform to raise awareness about arthritis and its challenges as well as to shatter myths about the disease. She is passionate about the Arthritis Foundation’s goal of a world free of arthritis pain.

"Although the Mrs. International Pageant (being held in Chicago) is during the same time as the JA Conference, I still wanted to be involved. This is such a great event for children with arthritis and their families...I can't wait to reach out and encourage the children and families living with arthritis: Arthritis is just a part of our lives, it doesn't control our lives!" Warden said.

She blogs about her arthritis experiences at Reigning over Arthritis: http://reigningoverarthritis.blogspot.com.

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