We Are #StrongerThanJA!
Did you know that July is Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Awareness month? An estimated 300,000 children in the United States have JA, which comes with a unique physical and emotional toll for kids, teenagers and families. JA can make it especially challenging for kids to say Yes – Yes to being a kid, Yes to playing, and Yes to spending time with friends or family – or even attending school!
Click on the images below and learn more about some of our outstanding JA Warriors who work each day to stay healthy, happy, and to battle arthritis.
And keep your eye out for upcoming #StrongerThanJA Arthritis Foundation Juvenile Arthritis Conference updates, from our West Conference in Phoenix, Arizona and our East Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where our Warriors will get to connect with their friends and others in the JA community, learn to self-advocate and more!
Twelve-year-old Noah Jones refuses to let juvenile arthritis stop him – his favorite days are the days when he rides his BMX bicycle, doing slides and jumps, wheelies and whips and twists and turns. Although his arthritis sometimes make it impossible for him to walk, he takes it one day at a time, and lives for the days when he can ride his bike and say Yes.
Lily was diagnosed with polyarticular JA before she turned 3. Her mom shares, “At that time she was walking with a limp, had several very swollen joints and couldn’t keep up with other kids her age. Now 5 years old, she performed in her first dance recital this past weekend. JA doesn’t stop her from doing anything, especially dancing!”
Juliette, an 11-year-old with juvenile arthritis, created Arthritis Animals to provide other kids with JA with comfort and joy. These small hand-crafted stuffed animals, from dragons to bunnies, are crocheted by Juliette, and are all dotted at the joints with red spots – so kids know these animals have arthritis, just like they do!
Gary has JA and was diagnosed when he was two years old. He loves baseball and pitched a game recently to close the win, receiving the game ball! His mother says, “He DOES NOT let his arthritis win!”
Adalyn (“Addy”) is 4 years old and was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age one. Her family shares that she is #StrongerThanJA because she is a fighter!
Kristen (“KMac”) faced her first arthritis-related surgery at age 10. “To me, being a Champion of Yes means fighting for what you know you can do, no matter how hard it seems.”
Parker has had more than 25 hospitalizations since being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA) six years ago. “I’d rather not look at what I can’t do and look at what I’ve been able to do since I got arthritis. I would never have been able to meet all the people I’ve met.”
Mariah has experienced severe arthritis symptoms since age 3. Now age 9, Mariah has started a widespread social media movement, called “Mariah’s Movers,” that connects kids with arthritis from all over the nation.
Meet Lilly. She is 5 years old and has arthritis in her knees, ankles, elbows, hands and neck. She takes weekly methotrexate treatments to help with her pain. But Lilly is #StrongerThanJA because, “Even when I am sore and it hurts, I ALWAYS smile!”
Carson was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA) when he was just 15 months old. With the help of methotrexate injections, some days are better than others, and he tries his best not to let the pain slow him down.
Sophie has juvenile polyarticular arthritis. She attended her first Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit this year to advocate for arthritis and meet with Congress members.
After struggles to afford the medication he needs to live a life of Yes, Zane partnered with CA State Senator Joel Anderson and CVS/specialty to successfully work within and outside the system to fight for medication affordability.
Kyleigh is an 11-year-old with juvenile arthritis, who testified in front of the Missouri legislature twice this year. Acting as a voice for all kids with JA, she most recently advocated for the passage of Missouri Senate Bill 875, which has now been signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon.
Ellie was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age four, and is taking a steroid, as well as a weekly injection of methotrexate, to treat her symptoms. Three months later, Ellie has experienced a huge improvement in mood, inflammation and range of motion. She now participates in a scientific study investigating what causes autoimmune diseases.
Alexandria (“Alex”) was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age four, and her family began fundraising as way to help her and others suffering from JA. Since her diagnosis, Alex and her family have raised almost $100,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, through fundraisers like Walk to Cure Arthritis.
Bella, once an active tennis and volleyball player, was diagnosed at age 13 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Although she no longer players sports as actively as she did before diagnosis, Bella has since shifted her focus to being one of the best Advocates possible for the Arthritis Foundation as she strives to raise awareness for juvenile arthritis.
Lexi was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age three. Now a teenager, Lexi has served as the National Young Adult Honoree of the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis, and travelled to Washington, D.C. for the Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy Summit where she visited Congress members to talk about JA in hopes to obtain more funding for arthritis research.
Ashlyn was diagnosed with extended oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis and enthesitis-related arthritis at 18 months. Her mom says, “She drives herself to be the best at whatever she does. Even though she hurts all the time, she gives 110%. As her team’s quarterback and point guard, a lot of the responsibility falls on her shoulders. She is #StrongerThanJA in so many ways, but especially as a team player.”
Diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) when she was just four years old, Graci has endured multiple lab tests, biopsies, injections and medications. But in spite of all that, she has remained – in her mom’s words – outgoing, funny, athletic and honest.
Nora, who has juvenile polyarticular arthritis, attended her first Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit this year. She shared her story with members of Congress to ask for their support of H.R. 1859, a bill that addresses the severe shortage of board-certified pediatric rheumatologists.