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A publication for volunteers of the Arthritis Foundation, Great West Region
Summer 2014

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Articles This Issue

Friends in the Field
Volunteer work gave Lizzie Yuen the confidence and motivation to pursue her dreams. Read her story.

Jingle in July - It's NEVER too early!
Sign-up for your local Jingle Bell Run/Walk and make a difference.

Seven Good Reasons to Give Back
Improve your health and the world around you. Discover how. 

Success With Total Hip Replacements Is All About the Numbers 
Surgeons who perform more hip surgeries per year have fewer complications. Find out more. 

Your Local Arthritis Foundation
Take a tour and meet the staff of the Denver office, one of the 10 offices of the Great West Region. Get started.

Volunteer Opportunities
Finding the right volunteer opportunity to match your skills and interest may be easier than you think. Learn more.

Volunteer Ventures

Bring A Friend to the Foundation

Get Connected


Friends in the Field

Volunteer work gave Lizzie Yuen the confidence and motivation to pursue her dreams.  


LizzieName: Lizzie Yuen
Location: San Francisco, CA

In 2003, after my first professional Nutcracker ballet season, I was diagnosed with lupus. I was nine-years-old.

Two years later, I attended Camp Milagros for the first time. This Arthritis Foundation camp in Northern California, for kids living with arthritis and related diseases was one of the few times where I felt normal and wasn’t ostracized for having lupus. I had such a good time at Camp Milagros that I fell in love with the Arthritis Foundation and wanted to attend more Arthritis Foundation events.

My family and I began attending the San Francisco Arthritis Walk and JA Family Education Days. At these events I was able to advocate for Camp Milagros and encourage other children with arthritis to attend camp by telling them about how much fun I had. Those conversations with other children felt like my first volunteering experience with the Arthritis Foundation -- encouraging other kids to go and sharing my stories was very natural.

After coming home from the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference in Hershey, PA in 2007 my family was recruited as volunteers when we were asked to join the Juvenile Arthritis Planning Committee. This committee works with the staff to plan JA Family Education Days, Camp Milagros, and other events for children with arthritis and their families. I was chosen to be the San Francisco Arthritis Walk Honoree in 2008 and was involved in multimedia and print advertisements of the walk and gave speeches at various events. I had my own team, and raised more than $1,000 for the walk. Beginning in 2011, I became old enough to start volunteering during Juvenile Arthritis Family Education Days, where I was one of the volunteers in charge of the 0-6 year-olds. quoteMost recently, in fall 2013, I came into the office once a week and helped plan the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk in San Rafael.

If asked, I don’t think I could pick one volunteering event to be my favorite. There were however two experiences that had a big impact on me. My volunteer work as the 2008 San Francisco Arthritis Walk Honoree helped me develop pride and confidence in my ability to live with lupus. After campaigning and meeting many new people, I finally felt proud at being able to overcome this chronic illness, do well in school and be physically active. Prior to this, I wanted to keep my lupus a secret from people outside of the Arthritis Foundation world because I was still ashamed of having lupus.

The other memorable volunteer experience was serving as a leader for Juvenile Arthritis Family Education Days. Seeing other young people with arthritis is one of the biggest motivators for me to want to pursue a career as a pediatric rheumatologist. Many children understand that having arthritis means they sometimes cannot participate in all the activities they want to, but they are still happy because they have good doctors who are able to get them into remission.

I have grown up with the Arthritis Foundation. I attended Camp Milagros as a kid, graduated to Teen Retreats as a teen, and then became a volunteer as an adult. Through experiences with the Arthritis Foundation, I have come to terms with and made peace with my lupus. Participating in Arthritis Foundation events and activities has inspired me to be a pediatric rheumatologist. As an adult serving as a volunteer I am determined to work hard in school and secure an internship at the National Institutes of Health or UCSF to make my dream a reality.



Jingle in July - It's Never Too Early

Sign-up for your local Jingle Bell Run/Walk and make a difference.


jbr collageLots of people are thinking about bathing suits and poolside parties – it’s summer, after all! But at the Arthritis Foundation, we’re thinking about the Jingle Bell Run/Walk, a fun holiday, family friendly event that features a 5k, a 1k run for kids, and sometimes even a giant elf! Typically held in December, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk also includes costume contests and plenty of festivities – all to raise funds for arthritis research, advocacy efforts and resources.

Planning ahead can make the difference between a good event and a great one, so consider starting your team now and recruiting team members over the summer. You and your team will be eligible for event perks that include VIP access and special prizes.

Register today! Go to and find a Jingle Bell Run/Walk in your community. You and your friends and family may have an opportunity to take advantage of an “early bird special!” Contact your company about matching gifts, and plan a kick-off party, a bake sale, or casual Fridays at your office to raise money for a corporate team. There are so many great ways to bring people together for a common cause!

Living with arthritis isn’t just a once-a-year experience. For those who have arthritis, it’s a year-round way of life. Doctors appointments, excruciating pain, and sometimes even depression accompany the challenges of living with a chronic disease like arthritis. Don’t procrastinate. Register today as a team captain and start inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join you at the 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk.


Find your local Jingle Bell Run/Walk event. 





Seven Good Reasons to Give Back

Improve Your Health and the World Around You


Reprinted from

handsAccording to the Giving USA Foundation, charitable giving in the United States reached an estimated $295 billion in 2006—a new record. The record-setting donations included $1.9 billion from Warren Buffett, paid as the first installment of his 20-year pledge of more than $30 billion to four different foundations. But you don’t have to be rich to make a difference. Millions of ordinary Americans—people who you pass on the street every day--also gave to charity, for the sake of making the world a better place, one dollar at a time.

Whether you donate money or time, giving back is beneficial--and not just for the recipients. Research has shown that the old adage, “it’s better to give than to receive” is true after all.

A Gallup survey on volunteering in the U.S.A. found that 52% of volunteers do it because they like doing something useful and helping others. Another 38% said they enjoy doing volunteer work and feeling good about themselves.

Besides feeling good about yourself for doing something for others, giving back is also good for your physical health. In a Canadian study, 85% of Ontario volunteers rated their health as "good," compared to 79% of non-volunteers. Only 2% of volunteers reported "poor" health, one-third the amount of non-volunteers who reported the same health status.

Still other studies have shown a relationship between volunteering and increased self-esteem, with volunteers reporting both greater personal empowerment and better health. Doing for others may stimulate the release of endorphins, which has been linked to improved nervous and immune system functions, too.

Many people report a “high” from volunteering, similar to the good feelings that come from exercise. Others have found that volunteering can help fight depression. Helping others can help take your mind off your own problems and enable you to see the bigger picture. Once you see the difference you can make in another person's life, your own problems can seem smaller and more manageable.

As more research is showing that people with fewer social contacts have shorter life spans than people with wide social circles, regardless of race, income level or other lifestyle factors. If you are lonely or live in an area far away from friends and family, volunteering is one way to build a social life and improve your emotional and physical health at the same time.

Here are Seven More Reasons to Volunteer:

  1. Develop new skills. Gaining skills, knowledge and expertise are common side effects of volunteering. Giving others your time brings you interesting and challenging opportunities that might not come along otherwise. This experience can be added to your resume and could result in a better paying job in the future.
  2. Make social connections. Loneliness and boredom are common among retirees, students, and transplants to a new city. Volunteering can relieve this sense of social isolation and help you fill empty hours in the day.
  3. Give back to your community. Doing something for the community you live in and returning the favor to those who have helped you are strong motivators. Everyone, rich or poor, takes from society, and volunteering is one way to show a sense of appreciation.
  4. Develop and grow as a person. Volunteering is an excellent way to explore your likes and dislikes. If you’re interested in a new career, volunteer in the field first to see if you will actually like it. You may find a totally unrelated field is a much better fit for you, one you’d never consider if you hadn’t volunteered there first.
  5. Gain a new perspective. Life can be hard and when you’re feeling down, your problems can seem insurmountable. Volunteering can offer a new perspective—seeing people who are worse off than you are, yet still hanging in there, can help you see your life in a whole new light.
  6. Know that you're needed. Feeling needed and appreciated are important, and you may not get that appreciation from your paid work or home life where the things you do are expected or taken for granted. When you volunteer, you realize just how much you are truly needed. Meeting people who need your help is a strong incentive to continue—people are depending on you. If you don’t do it, who will?
  7. Boost your self-esteem. Many volunteers experience a sense of increased self-esteem and greater self-worth. Helping others makes you feel good about yourself, because you’re doing something for someone that they couldn’t do for themselves.

Research has shown that the good feelings you experience when helping others may be just as important to your health as exercise and a healthy diet. But it’s the smile from a child or thankful person that shows you’re really making a difference in someone's life. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world.




Success With Total Hip Replacements Is All About the Numbers

Surgeons who perform more hip surgeries per year have fewer complications.


Reprinted from / By Jennifer Davis

hipFor restoring function and reducing pain, total hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful, cost-effective and safest options available – yet surgery-related complications do occur. A new study published recently in the journal BMJ has found that patients whose surgeons perform more than 35 total hip replacements (THR) per year – roughly three or more per month – have fewer complications compared to patients whose surgeons don’t meet that threshold.

Researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada analyzed the administrative health records of 37,881 people with osteoarthritis from the province of Ontario who got their first THR between 2002 and 2009. They pulled data on the rates of complications – including venous thromboembolism (blood clots) or death within 90 days of the surgery, as well as infection, dislocation or revision within two years of the surgery. They also gathered information on patient characteristics, such as age, socioeconomic status, additional health conditions and frailty.

The researchers then matched the patients – both those with and without complications – to their surgeons, and looked at the annual number of total hip replacements performed by those surgeons.

They calculated that patients whose surgeons had performed more than 35 THR in the preceding year had a 30 percent lower rate of early dislocations or revisions compared to patients whose surgeons had performed 35 or fewer procedures in the prior year. Patients operated on by these “high volume” surgeons also had lower risks of dislocation and of needing a revision than those with “low volume” surgeons.

Even for surgeons under the 35-a-year threshold, the risk of complications continued to rise as surgery volume fell. In other words, surgeons doing 25 surgeries a year, for example, had fewer complications than those performing only 10 a year.

The idea that higher volume leads to better outcomes isn’t limited to surgeons. Previous studies have found that complication rates after total joint replacement can vary widely by hospital, but generally are lower in hospitals with a higher volume of surgeries. One study – published in Arthritis & Rheumatism in August 2011 – found that when it come to total hip replacements, hospitals that do more than 200 surgeries a year have significantly fewer complications than those with lower volume.

“It’s well-established that increased volumes are generally correlated with improved outcomes following surgery, and it makes sense that if you do more of something, you will probably get better at it,” explains the lead researcher of the current study, Bheeshma Ravi, MD, PhD, a resident physician at the University of Toronto. “It’s also likely that surgeons are more apt to perform procedures they feel comfortable performing, and this might be reflected in the volume of their practice.”

In an accompanying editorial in BMJ, Karl Michaëlsson, a professor of medical epidemiology and senior consultant in orthopaedic surgery at Uppsala University, in Sweden, says these findings suggest “one dislocation or revision would be prevented in every 100 or so patients if they switched from a low volume to high volume surgeon.”

Although higher risks of complications were seen with low surgeon volume, a surgeon’s overall experience (measured in years of practice) did not appear to be a factor. “We were surprised, but it was interesting to see that experience was not necessarily the driver of lower complications,” Dr. Ravi explains. “It really suggests that it is the act of performing the surgery over and over again, and doing so in the recent past.”

This data is a little easier to come by in Canada, where there is a universal system of healthcare and provincial administrative databases. But Dr. Ravi says this kind of information is accessible in other regions in North America and Europe, and he believes there’s a value in other centers using the method employed in this study to determine the level of surgeon volume at which the complication rate declines.

“The number 35 in our study is just something that came out of the data,” Dr. Ravi explains. “What I would love to see is people using the technique for their area and health care providers, trying to actually pinpoint what the specific threshold or cutoff for volume is in their region.”

The finance website NerdWallet – which “hire[s] nerds to analyze complex decisions” – did something similar recently in the U.S., after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released large amounts of physician data to the public in early April. NerdWallet crunched the numbers on more than 3,400 orthopaedic surgeons and came up with 50 as the number of hip surgeries a surgeon should perform per year to be considered “high volume.”

Dr. Michaëlsson says the methods used to determine the surgeon volume threshold in the Canadian study are certainly more precise than methods used previously, but he thinks more research still is needed on this topic. “My view is that recommendations should not be based on a single study. We have to repeat this study design in other settings and we will see if can end up with a similar surgeon volume,” he explains.

But Dr. Ravi says for now, he believes his findings suggest patients should feel comfortable asking about an individual surgeon’s track record instead of simply looking at how many procedures are done annually at a particular hospital.

“Patients should feel empowered to ask how many procedures surgeons have done in the last year and see if those numbers are reassuring to them. You don’t necessarily need someone who does 200 or 300 a year, but our study suggests that it might be less than ideal to go to someone who only does a few a year,” he says.





Your Local Arthritis Foundation

Take a tour and meet the staff of the Denver office, one of the 10 offices of the Great West Region. 










Colorado lays claim to the invention of the cheeseburger (trademark awarded to Louis Ballast in 1935), has the longest continuous street in the U.S. (Colfax Avenue), and is home to the “melon capital of the world” (Rocky Ford). In addition, it’s home to the Denver office of the Arthritis Foundation, Great West Region. Though there is only one Colorado native among the 11 staff members in the office, their collective knowledge and experience generated an interesting list of favorite places and spaces – as well as some random tidbits.


What’s your favorite seat or section at Coors Field and why?

“My favorite section is anywhere on the third base side, preferably between 3rd and home.

As a kid I grew up a Baltimore Orioles fan, and my favorite players were Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken. Both played their entire careers (23 years and 21 years respectively) with the Orioles, at 3rd base and some short stop.I always sat on the third base side at Memorial Stadium, and it’s where I try to sit in any ball park – including Coors Field. Additionally, from third base at Coors you can see into the home dugout, so I can keep an eye on our players! ”

- Laura Rosseisen, President/Chief Development Officer

What has been the strangest thing or biggest culture shock you’ve experienced since you moved to Denver?

“The fact that it snows in May!”

-Pam Snow, Vice President, Consumer Health, recent transplant from the South

Best People’s Coast Classic (September 7-12 in Oregon, training route in Colorado.

“Cycling is really, really new to me. So far, though, I’m loving the ride to Golden (you can smell the rich aroma of hops in the air from the Coors Brewery) and riding the Highline Canal to the office (fitness and a functional ride, combined). There’s this extra special loop near mi casa in Lowry where I ride alongside the sunrise or sunset, with a panorama of Denver and the mountains in the distance and the plains stretched wide in front of me. It’s impossible to have a bad day when you begin or end it with this ride.”

- Wade Balmer, Regional Manager, Marketing and Communications:

Best place to balance your chi.

dynasty Chi responds to simplicity and natural beauty…these are two places to regain alignment and ignite the innate remembering within yourself: Dorje Khyung Dzong Retreat Center ( ) or the Retreat House at St. Benedicts Monastery.”

-Danielle Vacanti, Executive Administrative Assistant


If you were planning an itinerary for a friend visiting Denver during a summer weekend, what would you include?

“On any given weekend during the summer there are a slew of festivals, concerts, outdoor movies, and other community events taking place. I’d start with walking along the 16th Street Mall and going to Larimer Square for a tasty meal. If you want a view of the sunset over the mountains Tamayo has a great second story, open air balcony and delicious food.

On Saturday I’d recommend trying the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge then exploring the Cherry Creek Farmers Market. There you have your choice of delicious breakfasts and sweets from local vendors and food trucks. There is so much more beyond fruits and vegetables, you’ll end up with a few Colorado Proud souvenirs! After that head to the Botanic Gardens to see the beautiful glass art at the Chihuly exhibit. Then, quench your thirst at a local brewery – Great Divide or Renegade Brewery are two great choices! Saturday night take in some extraordinary blues and jazz at Dazzle Night Club.

Sunday morning go to Yoga Rocks the Park and get your chi on with hundreds of other yogis while a DJ spins tunes. Reward yourself with Snooze’s world famous pancakes, but expect a wait. Do some shopping in the Highlands neighborhood or on Broadway between 3rd and Cedar, where you’ll also need to stop at Sweet Action Ice Cream. Then head to Marczyk’s Fine Foods or Tony’s Market to pick up some food and drinks to enjoy the Sunday night Denver tradition of City Park Jazz. Music starts at 6:00 but many people arrive early to enjoy the beautiful space and weather.”

-Jill Lysengen, Field Relations Manager




Volunteer Opportunities 

Finding the right volunteer opportunity to match your skills and interest may be easier than you think. 


volunteersThe Arthritis Foundation values the commitment of our volunteers. We envision an organization in which volunteers can use their expertise and experience in business, leadership, marketing, health care, public relations, technology, fund raising, and government affairs to make a difference.

We will change lives in many ways because of YOU, our volunteers, who provide assistance in communities across the country, participate in programs, advocacy efforts and special events and raise funds to support research. We embrace, value and recognize every contribution made toward accomplishing our mission - to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.

We have many opportunities for volunteers through the end of 2014. These range from special event committee members, day-of-event volunteers, administrative and advocacy activities. For more information on these opportunities, please contact Jill Lysengen, Field Relations Manager, at or 888-391-9389 x6558.






Volunteer Ventures




Volunteers at Camp ArCTIC took part in a polar plunge in frigid Alaskan waters. Funds raised from this polar plunge into Lake Kenai will go towards the Camp ArCTIC team participating in the Anchorage Jingle Bell Run/Walk event on December 13, 2014. Camp ArCTIC (Arthritis Can’t Tame my Independence or Courage) is a camp for kids with juvenile arthritis, held in Cooper Landing, Alaska. 







Bring A Friend to the Foundation

Help our volunteer family grow! Share AFriends with friends or family members who may be interested in volunteering!

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Get Connected

Find your local Arthritis Foundation office to get connected.

Find out about all of our volunteer opportunities on our Volunteer Resource Page or fill out a volunteer application.

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