Category Archives: Featured

Teen Memoir: “My Life Because of You”

Below are excerpts from a blog posted on Teen Ink by Lexus Isabel, age 16, of Toledo, Ohio. Her submission about living with childhood arthritis is part of a national site that gives teens the chance to publish creative work and opinions on issues that affect their lives. Soon after it posted, her blog was in the #1 spot for memoirs.

Lexus has supported the Arthritis Foundation for several years, including participation in Walk to Cure Arthritis and Jingle Bell Run. She has also attended JA camps and done media interviews representing the juvenile arthritis community.

Dear Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis,

You are the term that has been engraved into my soul since birth. You are genetic and you manipulate my immune system to think there is something wrong with my joints. My immune system attacks me, causing inflammation and pain.

You’re a 7-year-old girl with an innocent face, wincing in pain. You are the smell of antiseptic as she enters the infinite number of hospitals and doctors’ offices. You taste like the toxic medication that chokes the girl twice a day. You feel like the piercing needles penetrating her skin, tears racing down her face, the constant, throbbing pain that stole away her innocence.

Most of all, you are the sounds you cause. You’re the “Mommy, it hurts,” as I scooch down the stairs because I can’t take the pain. You’re a mother screaming, “Tell me what’s wrong with my baby!” You’re the taunts of the children. You are me.

I want to thank you for this. If I was not bound to you, I would not be the person I am. I’ve become a compassionate, stubborn, determined young lady who wears her heart on her sleeve. I want to change the world. I want to help people and see the impact I make. I have this dream because of what you put me through. I don’t want others to be put through this, so I will be a person who guides them through their journey.

Yes, I am grateful to you, but I would never wish you upon someone else. You are genetic. You could have sprung upon one of my sisters. I would gladly balance this burden upon my shoulders for them.

You’ve taught me the importance of family. When you took hold of my life, everyone was scared, especially me. They hid their fear, took my little hands, and we stood against you as a family. When you were finally given a name, my grandmother, Mimmi, dove into research. My aunt helped me with my first injection of medication. My parents were probably hit the hardest by you. I’m so lucky to have them because they have been so supportive along the way.

I questioned my Mimmi about why God would do this to me. I snapped at her, “If God is so great, if he really does love me, then why would he do this to me?” She looked down and grabbed my hand. “Because he knows you are strong enough.” At the time I was just a little girl who had grown up too fast. Now I’m a strong young lady who is still a little scared of the future, but I know I am strong enough. These words have guided me through my life.

Then one day, I heard these words: “I think we can say you are in remission.” I let out a shaky breath and a laugh. My joy spilled out of my eyes. For the first time in years, I felt like I could breathe. I was floating. You were the burden that weighed me down but let me go and allowed me to fly. My parents’ smiles radiated in my direction as we realized all the things that seemed impossible could now be achieved. You are a battle that I will continue to fight because I will always be their little trooper.

You can read the entire blog on Teen Ink.

2018 juvenile arthritis conference

JA Conference Washington, DC – Kickoff

Superheroes Seen in Washington DC – the 2018 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference Begins Today!

Nearly 900 superheroes – kids, teens, young adults and their families – from across the country, have been seen banding together in Washington DC!

DC serves as the second location of the Arthritis Foundation’s signature National Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Conference. The JA Conference is a unique opportunity for families, kids, teens and young adults affected by JA and other rheumatic diseases to connect with others and spend the weekend networking, learning, sharing tips and forming friendships.

Continue reading JA Conference Washington, DC – Kickoff

2018 juvenile arthritis conference

Calling All Superheroes! The 2018 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference Begins Today!

Today, approximately 1,000 superheroes – kids, teens, young adults and their families – from across the country, have answered the call and have made their way to Bellevue, Washington.

Bellevue – a city located across Lake Washington from Seattle – is the first location of the Arthritis Foundation’s signature National Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Conference. The JA Conference is a unique opportunity to connect families, kids, teens and young adults affected by JA and other rheumatic diseases who spend the weekend networking, learning, sharing tips and forming connections that can last a lifetime.

Continue reading Calling All Superheroes! The 2018 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference Begins Today!

juvenile arthritis conference travel awards

Juvenile Arthritis Conference: Last Day to Apply for Travel Awards

Today is the last day to apply for a JA Conference travel award!

In its 34th year, the Arthritis Foundation’s National Juvenile Arthritis Conference has brought kids with rheumatic diseases and their families together for a weekend full of education, inspiration and connecting with others on a similar journey.

For many families managing with a constant stream of medical expenses, it may not be feasible to plan for a weekend conference that, depending on where you may live, might include extensive travel. The Arthritis Foundation is pleased to offer limited financial assistance to families wishing to attend the JA Conference who meet certain criteria.

Continue reading Juvenile Arthritis Conference: Last Day to Apply for Travel Awards

AOII banner

AOII: Celebrating 50 Years as a “Champion of Yes”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Arthritis Foundation’s partnership with Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) women’s fraternity. AOII’s unwavering commitment has helped the foundation serve millions of adults and children with arthritis through research, advocacy and community-based programs.

“We are so honored and proud to partner with such a worthy organization,” says Gayle Fitzpatrick, AOII’s International President. “For 50 years, we’ve stayed committed to the Foundation’s cause; raising money and providing hands-on support for camps, community initiatives and fundraising events.”

Continue reading AOII: Celebrating 50 Years as a “Champion of Yes”

2017 JA Conference Highlights

Houston Kicks Off the 33rd Annual National Juvenile Arthritis Conference

Over the weekend, nearly 1,000 kids, teens, young adults and their families made their way to Houston, Texas, to take part in the first of two National Juvenile Arthritis Conferences in 2017. For the second year in a row, the Arthritis Foundation is hosting two JA Conference locations to serve more kids, families and young adults across the country, while also welcoming “home” our returning veteran families.
Continue reading Houston Kicks Off the 33rd Annual National Juvenile Arthritis Conference

The 2017 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference in “Space City” Houston Blasts Off Today!

Today, kids, teens, young adults and their families from across the country are landing in Houston, Texas, for the first of two national Juvenile Arthritis (JA) Conferences the Arthritis Foundation is hosting this year. The JA Conference is a unique opportunity to connect families, kids, teens and young adults affected by JA and other rheumatic diseases who spend the weekend networking, learning, sharing tips and forming bonds that can last a lifetime.

Continue reading The 2017 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference in “Space City” Houston Blasts Off Today!

Five Things to Know About the JA Conference

As we prepare for the 2017 National Juvenile Arthritis Conferences, here are five things to know from our Conference Chair, Katy Carter, if you’re getting ready to join us this summer!

Calling All JA Warriors!

With the theme of the 2017 JA Conference being JA Warriors, we want to know how YOU are #StrongerThanJA! We are JA Warriors. Every day, we deal with the challenges of juvenile arthritis.  While our situations are unique, we’re in this together. Bold, brave and bright. Battling whatever gets in our way and celebrating our victories. As JA Warriors, we stick together, determined to win the fight against JA.

Continue reading Five Things to Know About the JA Conference