Walter (Bud) and Debra Winzen
Distinguished Service Awardees
While this couple remains busy at the company Walter founded 30+ years ago, Transportation Products Sales Company, and entertained by their seven children and ten grandchildren, they are also very committed to helping the Arthritis Foundation find cures for arthritic diseases.
In the 1990, Debra was involved in the design and marketing of business products that were awarded the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation. That sparked her interest in understanding the physical limitation of arthritis patients, and realization for how many people are affected. In 2005, Debra joined the Joints in Motion Team and trained/completed a marathon in honor of her niece Paige Berry, who was diagnosed with RA at age three. Since then, the Winzens have been involved with the Arthritis Foundation’s Silver Ball event as attendees, sponsors, committee members and committee chairs. In their two-year term (2015 and 2016) as Event Chairs, the Silver Ball raised over one-half million dollars for the Arthritis Foundation.
Debra says they are really pleased to see that the Arthritis Foundation is now sharply focused on advancing osteoarthritis treatments, conquering childhood arthritis and aiming to increase the number of rheumatologists. Both have hope that building on the significant discoveries that have been made recently for new treatments, personalized medicines, and patient-collaborated treatment plans, these goals will be reachable, and patients’ suffering will be diminished.
Farshid Guilak, Ph.D.
Dr. Farshid Guilak is a Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University and Director of Research for the Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis Shriners. He is also the co-director of the Washington University Center of Regenerative Medicine and has appointments in the Departments of Developmental Biology and Biomedical Engineering.
His laboratory’s research program focuses on osteoarthritis, a painful and debilitating disease of the synovial joints that affects over 27 million people in the United States. He uses a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to investigate the role of biomechanical and biological factors in the onset and progression of osteoarthritis, with a particular emphasis on the development of new molecular and cell-based therapies. His current research has created smart stem cells. “Stem cells don’t target specific areas,” said Dr. Guilak. “We are (genetically) reprogramming stem cells to do what we want them to.”
According to Dr. Guilak, the genetically created smart stem cells identify inflamed cells. Once the inflamed cells are identified, the smart stem cells incorporate themselves, not only to repair damaged cartilage, but also to produce and deliver specific therapeutic drugs to stop the inflammation. The smart stem cells are programmed to be active only when and where inflammation is present.
Highly committed to the arthritis community and finding cures, in his spare time Dr. Guilak enjoys taking part in the foundation’s Jingle Bell Run. His team has won awards for fundraising and best team costumes in the past. Dr. Guilak and his team have also taken part in national Juvenile Arthritis conferences by teaching sessions to explain arthritis and the importance of research. Kids of all ages used gels to create cartilage for a hands-on understanding of how things work. His team used “Cure E. Us” the mouse to explain lab research.
Ray Altmix, a busy CEO for Southern Bank in Marion IL, never stopped to think he could be sidelined by a chronic disease. Yet something loomed odd in Ray’s daily executive duties that he just couldn’t shake. His chronic fatigue and odd radiating joint pain had moved past the point of “slightly annoying” to “rather alarming.”
In September 2014, Ray’s diagnosis was confirmed. Rheumatoid Arthritis (R.A) was now his disease. He knew this was not a simple battle of aches and pains but a real fight against an incurable and progressive autoimmune disease. Ray recognized this as “The Bad Kind” of arthritis. The medical merry-go-round had begun. Medical protocol of the chemo drug, methotrexate was too harsh and the side effects were intolerable. Ray endured many changes in treatments.
Today Ray considers himself to be fortunate. Thanks to significant progress in drug therapies and cutting edge immune therapies, Ray is managing his R.A. Ray has joined the fight being led by the Arthritis Foundation. He chooses a positive outlook and continued research. Ray passionately served as the Corporate Chair of this year’s Walk to Cure Arthritis in Southern Illinois, and under his leadership he obtained new sponsorships, new teams were created and a high level of enthusiasm was generated for the event like never before! More than half of the funds collected were a direct result of Ray’s relationships and contacts. The $26,000 goal was quickly surpassed, and the event raised a record-breaking $57,700 for the Arthritis Foundation.
Sandy Duncan is the manager of Health and Wellness Services for Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, MO. She has been involved with the Arthritis Foundation for over 20 years. She started by becoming certified to teach arthritis aquatic and chair exercise classes in 1996. She had the opportunity to help grow the program to over 20 classes per week at her fitness facility, Fitness Plus. While her jobs at Saint Francis have changed, she continues to teach one arthritis class a week because of her love of the participants.
In 2001, Sandy was encouraged to train for a marathon. While she enjoyed running, she had never run more than 6 miles at any one time. She joined the “Joints In Motion” team and helped raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. Training for a cause so close to her heart made it much easier, not to mention the marathon was held in Hawaii! Participating in Joints in Motion sparked a love for running that she still has today, 10 marathons later.
Sandy’s favorite event is the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis which raises money for the Arthritis Foundation. She has helped organize the run at Fitness Plus every December for the past ten years. It is one of the largest 5K races in Cape Girardeau.
The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Arthritis Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections.
Advocacy | Help and Support | Juvenile Arthritis | Scientific Discovery