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.
Continue reading Anna Neu: Fighting for Childhood
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!
Continue reading A Generation of Giving