Hope for Juvenile Arthritis Cause Grows in Orlando this JA Awareness Month

Arthritis Foundation hosts 31st Annual National Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Conference; Actress/Singer, NASCAR driver and JA families part of three-day event

ORLANDO, Fla. – This week, approximately 700 children will visit the happiest place on earth with one mission (or two missions if you count riding Space Mountain) – to learn more about their disease and build friendships with others from across the country living with juvenile arthritis (JA).

Long misunderstood as a disease of the elderly, arthritis afflicts an estimated 300,000 children in the United States – and July is the month devoted to raising awareness for their cause. Each year in July, the Arthritis Foundation hosts the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference for these children and their families to attend educational sessions, engage in a community of advocates and to become a Champion of Yes for children living with JA.

This year’s conference, themed “Yes! Hope GROWS here,” will have a record attendance of 1,700 participants for a number of activities, including:

  • Opening-night entertainment from celebrity and Florida native Ana Villafañe, diagnosed with JA at the age of 7
  • Welcome party for Joint Ride cyclists as they end their 1,400 mile journey from NYC to Orlando
  • Pinewood Derby car decorating with NASCAR driver Todd Peck, also diagnosed with JA as a child
  • Programming tracks for children, young adults and parents
  • Presentations from rheumatologists, researchers, arthritis advocates and inspirational speakers
  • The presentation of the 2015 JA Awards of Excellence

“This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Juvenile Arthritis Conference, and much has changed in the lives of children living with the disease in that time,” said Ann Palmer, Arthritis Foundation president and CEO.  “In the course of one generation, advancements in treatment have resulted in far fewer children being held down by this disease or prevented from participating in the activities that many children take for granted. Still, there are bad days, and we have a long way to go towards a cure and building awareness for this disease – but I have no doubt this conference and these attendees will be the ones driving that change.”

The Arthritis Foundation’s 2015 Juvenile Arthritis Conference will take place from July 23-26, and additional information on juvenile arthritis and this year’s conference are at http://www.kidsgetarthritistoo.org/.

About the Arthritis Foundation:

The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. The Arthritis Foundation’s goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life – and making each day another stride towards a cure. The Foundation also publishes Arthritis Today, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4.2 million readers.