2013 Johnstown Arthritis Walk Honoree

She has the X-rays to prove it - two hip replacement surgeries before the age of 36.

Today, Raeann Hanlon has one goal – to walk a mile at the 2013 Johnstown Arthritis Walk.

Hanlon, diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) at age nine, has walked a difficult and painful road with her arthritis. Prior to her diagnosis Hanlon could do everything active little girls loved to do. Following aches dismissed as growing pains and days that included a “generous regimen” of aspirin, Hanlon was diagnosed. It was 1985.

“I didn’t know any other kids who had arthritis like me, but I wish I had,” she said. And she was the youngest person in water exercise class at the YMCA - youngest by decades.

When she was about 15, Hanlon’s arthritis went into remission. It was then, with her mother, that Hanlon attended the Arthritis Foundation’s JA Conference in Florida where she met other children with arthritis. It was a seminal moment.

Today Hanlon wants to reach out to children with arthritis and tell them “you are not alone. You have your whole life ahead of you.” Dispelling the myth that arthritis is simply a disease of growing older, Hanlon is passionate about telling everyone that “kids get arthritis, too.” Hanlon recalls all too well how her parents and five siblings helped her on every step of her arthritis journey.

Today that journey is one of progress in the fight against arthritis pain. With her first hip replacement in 2012 and her second last month, Hanlon has taken control of her arthritis and she’s ready to advocate and raise funds for a cure.

Join Hanlon at the 2013 Johnstown Arthritis Walk on May 11 at University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown.  Register at www.arthritiswalkjohnstown@kintera.org.

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