Most kids would have a long list of presents on their birthday wish list, but not 8-year-old Greyson. Instead, he asked his friends to support the Arthritis Foundation’s efforts to conquer arthritis.
That might not be surprising from a kid who has fought this life-altering disease for four years. Greyson even wants to be a doctor when he grows up so that he can treat the condition that has plagued him and his family.
At age 4, Greyson was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, which affects his eyes, knees and ankles. “I feel pretty lucky,” he says. “Many kids have it worse than me.”
Though his joints hurt a lot when he’s active – like when he’s playing his favorite sports: soccer, lacrosse, skiing and snowboarding – Greyson doesn’t complain. “If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that arthritis is horrible, and you don’t want to get it. But it doesn’t stop me from having fun. I know I have this challenge because I can handle it.”
Besides participating in sports, Greyson is learning to play the drums and loves to draw, especially monsters. “I won’t let arthritis slow me down,” says Greyson. “It has made me tough, as my parents tell me every day.”
Last year, Greyson was the Youth Honoree for the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run in Cleveland, leading his Greyson’s Superheroes team to raise almost $9,000.
The Chess family is grateful for the Arthritis Foundation’s support – helping them understand what arthritis is, what to expect and how to deal with it. They’ve found a community of support and resources they wouldn’t have otherwise.
“I couldn’t do this on my own,” Greyson concludes. “It’s nice to know I don’t have to.”