Suzanne’s Story 

Suzanne was diagnosed at age 14 with rheumatoid arthritis. Her rheumatologist told her that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she reached age 50. She’s proved that doctor wrong.  

Dr. Suzanne Dashiell Elder was diagnosed at age 14 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Her first rheumatologist told her that she should be prepared to be in a wheelchair by the time she reached age 50.  Now, 36 years later, she’s 50 years old and has proved that doctor wrong. Not only is she walking without any medical aids, she has a full-time career as a high school science teacher and is a full-time mother to three amazing children.    

Even though Suzanne has tried almost every medication and has had over 10 surgeries ranging from bone fusions to joint replacements, she feels fortunate. Living with RA has molded her character and she believes that hard work and persistence trumps all.  Unfortunately, at age 38, Suzanne experienced another setback by being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which has caused even more widespread pain over every part of her body.  Even though each day is a struggle and filled with pain, she is very determined to take control of the disease and not let it control of her. 

Living with chronic pain takes its toll both physically and emotionally, but Suzanne believes it’s very important to focus on what you can do and not dwell on what you cannot do.  Suzanne had to give up playing competitive sports and stop playing the violin and guitar due to her illnesses, which were devastating to her.  But learning to focus on the positives, she was able to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees. She worked in research at the National Institutes of Health before becoming a biology teacher at Urbana High School, where she was awarded the 2012 Maryland STEM Teacher of the Year.  

She enjoys working with students and making positive impacts daily. She does her best to be actively involved in her personal life with her children.  She coaches her daughters’ softball team and loves watching her son’s baseball games.  And she is proud to tell everyone that she has attended over 300 concerts in her lifetime.   
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  • Donate


    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer


    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner


    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.


Ways to Give

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.

Make a Donation

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!

Become a Member

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

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

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.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.


Volunteer Opportunities

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.

Become a Volunteer

More About Volunteering


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. 

How are you changing the future?

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.

Get Started


Meet Our Partners

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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