Young Entrepreneur Puts Skills to Fundraising

Cameron and his family got support from the Arthritis Foundation. Now they’re giving back.

By Allison Wilcosky | Feb. 26, 2024

When Cameron talks about his journey with juvenile arthritis, he’s pretty matter-of-fact.

“I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 6 years old. It started in my knee and went from my ankle and eventually to my jaw.”

Cameron’s mom, Cloe, thinks it started even earlier.

“I feel like Cameron had symptoms as a toddler. He would wake up from naps sometimes and drag his leg,” she recalls. The summer before kindergarten, his knee was swollen the entire time. “We saw doctor after doctor after doctor, and the rheumatologist was the last stop for us.”

After being diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Cameron received an injection in his knee and was fine for a while. But twisting his ankle reignited a flare. Thankfully, they were able to treat it quickly.

When Cameron was in second grade, he started saying that his cheeks hurt. “Kids have a hard time explaining if it’s a tooth or a canker sore I couldn’t see,” Cloe says. “But he stopped eating certain things and was just always complaining that his cheeks hurt.” Eventually, they went to urgent care.

“They asked him to open as wide as he could, and he couldn’t,” Cloe says. “Then [Cameron] said something about the jaw joint, and as soon as he said the word joint, I was like, ‘Oh, could this be his arthritis?’ I didn’t make the connection that it could be his arthritis; nobody had ever said that could be a possibility.”

“I remember it being a quick, really sharp pain,” Cameron adds.

From second to eighth grade, he was on methotrexate and a biologic for his arthritis. Today, Cameron is 16 years old and medication-free. He plays guard on a local basketball team and spends time outdoors fishing and going on walks. He also recently started his own landscaping company, mowing, mulching and weeding.

Connecting for a Cause

Cameron’s been a longtime entrepreneur though, starting a lemonade stand at the age of 3 after learning about Lemonade Day at the local library. But he shifted his efforts to fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation soon after being diagnosed. His family connected with the local Arthritis Foundation office in Indiana and registered for Walk to Cure Arthritis.

Over the past seven years, Cameron has raised over $24,000. “Every year, we make and sell T-shirts. I’ve also made brownies and cookies,” Cameron says with a smile. One year, based on Cameron’s love of basketball, they organized a clinic with one of Cameron’s basketball coaches. “Everybody paid $20 to play,” Cloe notes, “and we had a silent auction.”

“I always enjoy seeing my friends and family at the Walk to support me,” Cameron says. “Sometimes I can’t believe how many of them there are. They’re supporting me. And I’m very grateful to them for their donations and coming to support me.”

Cameron has been named a national honoree for the 2024 Walk to Cure Arthritis season. He’s not sure what his goal will be this year, but there’s no doubt he anticipates adding substantially to his overall fundraising.

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