Sally-Jo’s Story 

At 67 years old, rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has taken a toll on Sally-Jo. She’s been living with the disease since age 13. Despite her lifelong battle, she’s strong and her attitude stays positive. 

Sally-Jo Bakken is a 67-year-old wife, mother, sister, aunt and friend. When she was 13, her family went to New York City. After a day of walking, her ankles were swollen and her thumb was very sore. Sally-Jo’s parents insisted that she see a doctor. That’s when she learned she had rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  

Sally-Jo had to learn how to be a teenager, college student, employee, family member and friend while dealing with RA. The people that she has surrounded herself with treat her the way she wants to be treated. At 24, she had a total knee replacement. She has had many surgeries since then. She’s had broken bones and moments of just feeling miserable. 

While RA has taken a toll on Sally-Jo’s body, her spirit is strong. She tries to be an empathetic person who can see beyond herself. She surrounds herself with like-minded people and credits her parents for insisting on an attitude of kindness and positivity. 

In 2014, Sally created a Jingle Bell Run team, Sally Jo’s Peeps.  The team is full of passion and always ready to take on a challenge. Her team has consistently been in the top 10 fundraising teams every year.  

“Bellingham shows its best self at this event,” says Sally. “While Jingle Bell Run raises a huge amount of money for an incredible cause, it has also turned into my own reunion.”