Claire was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was just 2 years-old. Before her official diagnosis, Claire developed significant pain and swelling in her right knee and foot. She was in so much pain she refused to go to the park and frequently asked to be carried.
In May of 2014, Claire received an official diagnosis of JIA from Lurie Children’s. The initial months after Claire’s diagnosis were a flurry of activity and doctor appointments. Claire was very brave when she went in for x-rays or to get her blood drawn. During flares, Claire takes anti-inflammatory medication three times a day. In June 2016, she underwent outpatient surgery at Lurie Children’s Hospital to inject cortisone in her knee and to drain excess fluid. Claire was a trooper through this process and reports, “I did not like that IV one bit . . . but the Popsicle was great!”
Claire and her family feel very fortunate that she doesn’t have any current physical restraints. She continues to work with a physical therapist and a speech therapist to maintain her progress and build strength after JIA interfered with some of her developmental processes.
Although Claire is in partial remission, she and her parents still spend many hours traveling to the doctor or therapy. Even with private insurance, they have to work longer hours to pay for Claire’s medical bills. Even though she has spent a lot of time managing her JIA, Claire learned to ride a bike this summer. Claire also has taken swim lessons and can swim underwater by herself, has taught herself to read and she also will be starting her first season of soccer this fall.
Claire enjoys and knows the importance of attending Arthritis Foundation activities, or what she calls “arthritis parties.” She even tells her parents, “It’s good for my friends to learn about kids with arthritis.” The family feels blessed to have a team of family, friends and caring child professionals to support Claire or to learn more about juvenile arthritis. “Fundraising for the Walk helps our family to feel that our journey can help other families and raise awareness about the shortage of pediatric rheumatologists in the United States,” says Jen, Claire’s mother.
Claire is very excited to stay up past her bedtime to attend the Freedom of Movement Gala as the Youth Honoree. Claire says her stuffed toy, Sheep Blanket, has developed arthritis in his elbow and she will be bringing him to support her at the gala. Please join us in supporting children like Claire as we raise funds and fight for a cure.
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