This Little Girl Wants the Greatest Gift of All

“Every day might not be a good day. But there is good in every day.” Inspired by this saying, Esmee puts words into action.

Esmee Guerrero, 11 years old, is a unique kid who has taken the fight against arthritis to heart. Esmee, who lives in Orange County, California, wants a cure most of all. So much so that it’s at the top of her birthday and Christmas wish lists.

Esmee was diagnosed with childhood arthritis four years ago. After her wrist started hurting and she couldn’t move it, her pediatrician ordered bloodwork, which showed what her chiropractor’s X-rays didn’t: She has juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

“It’s hard to describe if you haven’t felt really hard pain that’s long-lasting,” says Esmee. “I’ve broken my thumb before, and it’s not like breaking anything. It’s just really bad. You can’t move anything. You’re confined in what you can do. I was playing softball and dancing, and I couldn’t do that anymore. It hurts when I write, and I have terrible writing now.”

“We didn’t have to wait long for her diagnosis, thank goodness, unlike many other children,” says Esmee’s mother, Yolanda. Treatment started with a liquid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that had a disgusting taste. “She would fight us when she had to take that medication,” Yolanda remembers. Esmee’s rheumatologist switched her to a disease-modifying antirheumatic injection after her diagnosis, then added a biologic injection.

Today, after three years of two injections every week, Esmee only takes the biologic. Her wrist has greater range of motion and less pain. Her father, Gus, says her biomarkers show significant improvement, and so do her yearly MRIs. “She is progressing,” he says. “We’re very proud of her. It’s great that she wants to put her presents to a great cause to help others.”

Like for everyone, 2020 has been a challenging year for the Guerrero family. Esmee’s biggest wish for the holidays: “For COVID to be gone.” Remote schooling hasn’t been much fun, and now that she’s back in the classroom, everyone must wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart from each other. On the flip side, Esmee has found time to catch up on all the Star Wars movies, which she’s hooked on, in addition to the Indiana Jones series.

Esmee says she’d like to meet other kids who are battling juvenile arthritis (JA). “We don’t know exactly what she’s going through,” says her mom. “I did some research and found the Arthritis Foundation. I read stories and found out more about the disease. We were starting to consider a JA camp, but COVID got in the way.”

Esmee and her sister, Uma, 14, love to cook and have fun in the kitchen. “I love making any kind of mac and cheese. I like making dressings and seasoning things with spices I put together. Plus, salads. I made this bean/beet/basil spread for toast.” Her mother says, “It’s so much fun watching them cook and tasting their dishes.”

In addition, Esmee and her family care for their pet bunny, Kiké. “I’ve always wanted a bunny,” says Esmee. “Bunnies are adorable.” And a new puppy has joined the family, too — a Maltipoo named Millie Rey.

“I’ve always encouraged both of my daughters to do whatever they can do to be part of the community,” says Yolanda. “I told Esmee, maybe on your birthday, you can donate one present where you get to help something. And she said, ‘I just want to raise money to help the Arthritis Foundation’s work.’ We saved all of her money and gave it on Giving Tuesday in 2019. So, that’s how we connected with the Arthritis Foundation.” And it’s a new tradition they’re continuing this year.

Both years combined, they will have donated about $1,000 to the Arthritis Foundation from Esmee’s birthday and Christmas money she received (along with Santa’s donation), and more money she raised from others, including matching gifts from her parents.

“Feeling the pain I’ve felt, and experiencing the hurt, I think it’s important to donate to help conquer arthritis,” says Esmee. Last February, she had a school assignment to write a persuasive essay. “I wanted to convince people to donate to help find a cure and help find new medicines to treat arthritis,” she says

Esmee loves to cite quotes she has come across that inspire her. One of her favorites is from Maya Angelou: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” A couple of other top sayings she shares: “Every day might not be a good day, BUT there is GOOD in every day.” And “No act of kindness is ever too small to make a change in the world.” And of course, “May the force be with you.”

“I want to help with every last penny I’ve got,” Esmee says. “I want to make everyone who has arthritis feel like gold, when they can say, ‘I did it.’ This has been a great opportunity to help others who have arthritis. I love giving — because it helps.” —TONY WILLIAMS

As 2020 winds down, consider the support families like Esmee’s and Sarah’s need. Our goal is to raise $600,000. CBDMedic is matching contributions in December up to a campaign total of $50,000.  So please give generously to increase our collective support. 

It’s been a tough year during the pandemic. The Arthritis Foundation’s resources are stretched to the limit. But with your gift we can make a tremendous impact on conquering arthritis. At least 54 million Americans depend on us!

 

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Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

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Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

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Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20 and you'll receive access to helpful tools..... and more. 

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Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

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The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

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Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

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By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

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As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.

Trailblazer

Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000

Visionary

Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.

Pioneer

Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.

Pacesetter

Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.

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Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.

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Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.