By Chris Cahill
Community Development & Marketing Manager, Arthritis Foundation, Michigan
Here’s the thing about arthritis: There’s a significant false perception that arthritis is a minor affliction that only older people get. And, in many cases, people who have arthritis don’t look like they’re seriously ill, especially kids.
Logan Bry is a 12-year-old from Northville. Some people thought he was faking his pain. He could no longer play sports or ride his bike. Sometimes, walking up stairs was impossible. Other kids were laughing and making fun of him.
Jordan DeLore is a 14-year-old from Lapeer. She remembers thinking, “How can I have arthritis? Only old people get it.” Jordan will be a counselor this summer at the Arthritis Foundation’s Camp Dakota – a medically supervised residential camp for kids who have arthritis.
Taylor Gray is a 16-year-old from Farmington. She was 12 months old when her parents noticed that she was refusing to stand or walk.
“I never forget about the pain,” Taylor. said “When it’s in your thumbs, it’s a sharp pain whenever you move them. When it’s in your ankles and knees, you use them to walk and, when they’re in pain, you can’t do that.”
Logan, Jordan and Taylor are among the 300,000 kids nationally, and 10,300 kids in Michigan who have juvenile arthritis. More than 50 million Americans have arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the US.
Looking at Logan, Jordan and Taylor, you’d never guess that they have a serious illness.
What you can’t see is that, for unknown reasons, their immune systems are attacking their bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Their joints are slowly and progressively deteriorating. They are in pain and, over time, this pain will significantly increase while their mobility will decline.
People with more advanced stages of arthritis often have difficulty doing simple things, like brushing their teeth or feeding themselves.
Arthritis never goes away. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. Many people hope to find a medication, or combination of medications, that will better control their arthritis. But even then, this is only a stop-gap measure as the medications used to treat arthritis only slow the disease down and oftentimes lose their effectiveness.
Until there are better treatments or a cure, people who have arthritis will continue to experience progressive joint deterioration and pain. This is the plight of all people who have arthritis and for Logan, Jordan and Taylor, they are only at the beginning of their arthritis battle.
Logan and Jordan will be special honorees at the 2014 Detroit Walk to Cure Arthritis at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. Taylor is a past honoree.
Presented by the Beaumont Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Walk to Cure Arthritis is the Arthritis Foundation’s fun and non-competitive walking event that supports programs, research and advocacy initiatives that help people who have arthritis.
Registration is free and includes admission to the zoo. A $25 donation per person is suggested. Learn more at WalkToCureArthritis.org or by calling (855) 529-2728