Helen King: An Arthritis Warrior on a Mission

This volunteer is on a mission to help other people with arthritis to live their best lives.

By Marlena Reed | March 31, 2023

When Helen King noticed pain in one of her finger joints, she found it odd but not terribly concerning. Then, one morning she woke up unable to lift either arm. After getting referred to a rheumatologist, she received a diagnosis of acute onset, aggressive rheumatoid arthritis, along with osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. On that day in 2014, Helen immediately decided to not only survive, but to thrive within her new normal. 

While her rheumatologist did not refer her to the Arthritis Foundation, Helen got involved by becoming a trained facilitator for a support group for people with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. She then discovered the Walk to Cure Arthritis (WTCA) in her community and created a team. 

“Participating in the walk helped me connect more deeply with the local arthritis community to get the support I need as a patient, and it allowed me to connect more people to the Foundation’s resources and tools to help them cope,” says Helen. She remains one of the Philadelphia WTCA’s top fundraisers. 

Since her first Walk to Cure Arthritis in 2015, Helen’s impact has grown, and she supports the arthritis community and the Foundation at the local, regional and national levels. She facilitates a Connect Group and is a Platinum Ambassador where she advocates for better federal and state health policy, such as the Safe Step Act, which requires insures to implement a clear, transparent process to ensure patients can safely and efficiently access the best treatment that’s for them — without the need for prerequisite treatments (referred to as step therapy). Helen has lived through the challenges of health insurance accumulators and required step therapy.

“I always say that I don’t know where I would be in my arthritis journey if I hadn’t found the Arthritis Foundation, and it’s true,” Helen explains. “We know that people who connect with others and get help feel more empowered in their health journey and have better outcomes.”

Helen serves as the Local Leadership Board Chair, local Walk to Cure Arthritis Chair, and in 2023 she was appointed to the National Board and Executive Committee. In 2023, Helen also received a national Arthritis Foundation Champion Award for her leadership and commitment to furthering our mission. 

In 2023, Helen received the Arthritis Foundation’s Champion Award at the annual Pathways Conference, and her tireless support of the arthritis community shows no signs of slowing any time soon. “Representing people who have yet to find their voices in this disease is a real honor,” she says. 
Join us as we celebrate our amazing volunteers. Register for 2024 Pathways.

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