Born on July 4, Geoff and Sara Morthland called red-haired Ellery their “firecracker,” but at 19 months old, only Ellery’s knees were inflamed. They soon discovered the reason: juvenile arthritis (JA).
“I felt so powerless, Sara Morthland, Ellery’s mother, said. “I couldn’t make it go away.”
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana resident turned emotion into action and searched for a fundraiser supporting an arthritis cure. When she discovered Walk to Cure Arthritis, Sara was elated—only to learn Louisiana did not have a Walk.
Determined to raise awareness and find a cure for her daughter, Sara set out to launch the first Walk to Cure Arthritis Louisiana had seen in years. She found a Baton Rouge venue, sponsors, raised funds and got her friends, family, local high school and the medical community involved.
“I just thought about who had treated my daughter—ortho clinics, physical therapists, health care companies—and reached out to them,” she said. “I was amazed at the support.”
The Walk was such a success, the Arthritis Foundation hired Sara to manage development activities across the state of Louisiana. This year, her Walk is back and better than ever.
“It’s twice as big, and we’re reaching out to even more adults and families with arthritis,” she said.
As Louisiana’s Walk to Cure Arthritis event grows, Ellery is also growing and managing her JA. With the help of steroids and shots, she dances and plays with her little sister, Madeline, age two.
“She falls down a lot, but each time she falls she says, “I’m okay!” Sara said.
A Champion of Yes, Ellery and Sara will continue to make sure others with arthritis are “okay,” too, as they work on the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis.
Their Baton Rouge Walk is May 20 at 8:30 a.m. at Woodlawn High School. If you or someone you know would like to participate, register online and get started today.