Mariah’s Story 

This teenager has never known life without arthritis. Now she’s fighting to help others like her who live with pain.

“She went from running faster than me to not being able to walk.” As the mom of a normally energetic toddler, Tory Aquino found herself filled with worry and fear as she watched her 3-year-old struggle with insurmountable pain.

For three months, her daughter Mariah couldn’t even walk. “She said she didn’t want to exist anymore because of the pain,” remembers Tory.

Now age 14, Mariah Aquino-Truss knows more about pain than most adults. She has been living with chronic pain from juvenile arthritis (JA) since she was 3. But, like many children with JA, it took a while for her to be diagnosed.

Answers, and Questions
By the time Mariah was finally diagnosed in 2011 at age 5 with polyarticular spondyloarthropathy, a type of JA, her spine had begun to curve and the inflammation in her hip was so bad that one leg was an inch and a half shorter than the other, so when she walked, one leg dragged behind the other.

But the diagnosis brought more worries. “Will my child possibly not walk? Will Mariah possibly have to have surgery? What limits are going to be put on her because of this diagnosis?” Tory wondered.

“All we wanted was an answer. And for us, the Arthritis Foundation was that answer. They gave us so much hope and so much support.”

Finding Hope
Partnering with the Arthritis Foundation brought the Aquino-Truss family more information and resources about this complex disease and the challenges it brings. Mariah and her sister, Mauriauna, teamed up with Foundation representatives to give presentations to classmates about arthritis, and Mariah started a Facebook group to reach other kids with JA — it now has more than 5,500 followers. She calls the group Mariah’s Movers, the same name as her Walk to Cure Arthritis team, which now has an Instagram presence, too.

“This is so much bigger than us,” Tory says. “What Mariah’s started — it offers so much hope to people. I don’t think we realize the impact it really makes.”

Taking Control
Mariah is not one to sit back and wait for things to happen. She has attended Arthritis Foundation JA camps, and she and her sister have both taken part in JA Conferences. The family has participated in local, state and national advocacy events, including the Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC.

“Although this disease is big and ugly and terrifying at times,” Tory says, “we have a humungous family that cares and that is there to support us and is dumping millions of dollars into research and raising awareness and giving us hope.”

Give more families like Mariah’s hope by making a donation to the Arthritis Foundation.

This month, the Arthritis Foundation is shining a light on people living with arthritis pain in recognition of Pain Awareness Month. Mariah is one of 300,000 children in the U.S. living with pain from JA — and she’s taken up the banner in the fight to gain support for people with arthritis and for research to find a cure.

 

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

  • Volunteer

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

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

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

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

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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. You'll receive a year's worth of Arthritis Today magazine, access to helpful tools, resources, 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.

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

Volunteer


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.


More About Volunteering

Live Yes! INSIGHTS


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.

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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.

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.

Signature

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.

Supporting

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