anna year end giving 2017

Anna Neu: Fighting for Childhood

Anna Neu is 8 years old and holds a title she’d rather not have – the youngest person ever diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t plagued by pain in her spine and hips, the telltale sign of her disease. Diagnosed as a toddler, Anna has good days and bad, but often, she’s sidelined by a form of arthritis most people don’t even realize affects children.

“Anna started complaining of bugs biting her back and waking up screaming in the middle of the night when she was just 2 years old,” says her mom, Emily. “She would stop and sit when the family was out for a walk around the block and say, ‘I have no more runs left’ or ‘my engine ran out.’”

Despite the pain, she’s a brave girl, working hard to help doctors learn more about her disease and how to best treat it. A regular study participant at the National Institutes of Health, Anna is hoping she will help researchers find better treatments, and one day a cure, for AS.
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peyton holstein arthritis foundation giving

A Generation of Giving

Each year as the leaves begin to fall and the weather gets a few degrees cooler, Peyton Holstein of Lake Oswego, Oregon, along with her older brother, Tobias and four of their cousins, begin researching both local and national charity organizations. While it is easy to assume this is for a school assignment, it’s not. Each cousin is readying their pitch for a unique family Thanksgiving tradition.

Approximately eight years ago, Peyton and Tobias’ great uncle Ron began donating to different charities in the six cousins’ names for Christmas. When the kids were younger, he chose a charity and presented each child with the donation made in their name along with an explanation of how their charitable gift will help the organization. One year it was a donation of goats to a village in Africa that would help provide the village with milk and fertilizer for crops and gardens. Another year after the earthquake in Haiti, it was a gift of water and rice to fulfill the basic needs of a devastated community.

As the kids grew older, Uncle Ron asked each of them to find their own cause and research the organization – from an organization’s mission to charity rating, how much per dollar is invested to how they intend to use the donation, and make their pitch at the family Thanksgiving get together. The six cousins, ages 10-24 years old, listen to one another, embark on a discussion, make ballots and vote between themselves. The Arthritis Foundation was the overwhelming choice for this year’s donation!

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kate wingate jbr youth honoree

Kate Wingate, Jingle Bell Run National Youth Honoree

From Kate Wingate

My name is Kate Wingate and I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina. On the outside, I look like a normal 13-year-old girl, but I have juvenile arthritis (JA).  Arthritis is a disease that doesn’t present in a way that you might think, and unless I’m having a flare, no one would ever know.  I’ve had JA since I was 18-months-old, so I can’t remember what it feels like to not have pain in my joints.

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charcandrick west

Unstoppable: Charcandrick West’s Story

Charcandrick West has juvenile arthritis. Now he’s dodging tackles in the NFL.

It’s a scene fans of the Kansas City Chiefs football team know well: Charcandrick West crashes into a tackler, spins and breaks free, then shifts into high gear as he races downfield. Yet Charcandrick, now in his fourth season as a running back for the Chiefs, never forgets that he has faced a more challenging oppo­nent: systemic juvenile idiopathic arth­ritis (sJIA). It appeared at age 14, and symptoms became so severe that one doctor predicted the teen might never walk again, much less play football.

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allison alberts jia wisconsin youth jbr honoree

Champion of Yes: A Three Sport Athlete, Allison Alberts Charges Forward Through Arthritis Pain

For 17-year-old Allison Alberts of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, waking up with pain is an everyday occurrence for her. Some days the pain is manageable and can be helped along by a hot shower or a run to loosen up her body. Other days, Allison might struggle to get out of bed and looks to her father, Jamie, to help her walk or give her joints a comforting massage.

“There are many days I wish I could be normal, let alone feel normal for a day – a day without any pain, “says Allison. “But complaining does nothing. Complaining won’t take away the pain and complaining won’t allow my fingers to look normal. The way I go about my day is to let my arthritis and my body know that they will not stop me.”

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arthritis foundation autoshow

Getting Rid of Arthur, the Uninvited Guest

When Kevin Gadd was born, roughly 51 years ago, an unexpected and unwelcomed guest joined his family.

“My mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in her hands just after I was born,” explained Kevin. “We called it Arthur, like Arthur-itis. We were always mad at Arthur because he brought pain to my mom and made it difficult for her to do the things she loved. Arthur was a bad dude.”

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volkenburg brothers arthritis foundation fundraising

Brothers Battle Gigantic Duck and 5 Foot Waves in Record Setting Swim Across Lake Erie

They said they were going to do it and, by golly, they did it – in record time!

Earlier this year, brothers Tom and Greg Van Volkenburg decided they were going to swim across Lake Erie, a distance of 24.3 miles, in honor of their mom, Debbie, who has battled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for most of her life.

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