Emily Elizabeth Wegmann has systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Since the age of two Emily has not had many pain-free days, but she has had numerous trips to the hospital, and several surgeries for joint injections. She underwent hip replacement surgery last October at Midwest Orthopedic at Rush, and she has responded wonderfully.
Since receiving her new hip Emily said, “I can walk better, run some days, and I just got my very own customized badminton racquet for my weekly lessons. I am also swimming once a week, and the last 10 minutes in the hot tub is the best part. All this activity helps my joints and I am getting stronger every day. I hope that this will help me grow too.” All of the steroids she received to help with the fevers, swelling and pain caused necrosis in her left hip which has stunted her growth.
Despite these challenges Emily is a very active seventh grader at Bryan Middle School in Elmhurst, where her favorite subjects are math and French. She is having lots of fun learning to play badminton, and plans to try out for the team when she gets to high school.
Emily has a very loving and supportive home life that includes her 15 year old sister Katie, who plays the violin and is on the golf and badminton teams at her high school, and her 12 year old brother, Jimmy who is a goalie and plays lots of hockey. Hockey just happens to be Emily’s favorite sport to watch. She shared that, “My dad takes us kids to eat and to a movie so mom can have some time off.” This busy seventh grader spends a lot of time with best friends Ellie and Katie. Emily said, “We do everything together. I went to dance class at my school for eight Friday nights and I was able to dance, but being the shortest girl there wasn’t fun, but the dancing and parties were.” Emily also enjoys shopping at the mall, having sleepovers and just hanging out.
When asked about other activities she enjoys, Emily replied, “I am getting to be a very good baker. I watch a lot of YouTube videos for recipes, tips and tricks. This is a great activity for me when I am sore, so when I am able and my homework is done I’m baking up goodies to share.”
Always thinking of others, this summer Emily will volunteer at the Elmhurst Public Library as an aide to the summer reading program with kids. “Since I read a lot this is very fun for me. I like helping kids find new books to read.”
Emily went on to say, “I hope that people can learn from me, and all the therapies I have had to help other kids so they don’t suffer the way I have. I know someday there will be a cure. I just really want it to be soon.”
Emily is wise beyond her years, and we are in awe of her bravery and courage. We are thrilled to recognize her as the 2015 Freedom of Movement Black Tie Gala youth honoree.
Now in its 26th year, the Freedom of Movement Black Tie Gala is the largest fundraising event of the year. Funds raised go to support research, and provide key local and national advocacy and public education programs.
For more information about the Freedom of Movement Black Tie Gala, to purchase tickets or become a sponsor please contact Kim Kempf at 312.880.4733 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.