2012 Jingle Bell Run/Walk® – Middlesex County, NJ
Metuchen High School
400 Grove Avenue- Metuchen, NJ
Sunday, December 2, 2012

Youth Honoree – Ryan Donnelly
My name is Ryan Donnelly and I am 13 yrs. old and I have Juvenile Arthritis. I was diagnosed at the age of 5 with JA. I have had inflammation in my hands, fingers, knees, toes and feet.

At the age of 9 my JA got worst and we decided to go to The Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at RWJ in New Brunswick. At this point my arthritis was so bad that I could not perform simple tasks like button or zippering clothing or open water bottles. I had to ask for help. At times I even have had a hard time holding a pencil to do school work. I dreaded getting up in the mornings with the stiffness, always being so tired and something always hurting. Other kids and adults do not always understand how I can “look” healthy but that I cannot always perform simple tasks or play. I started some new meds and a couple rounds of physical therapy and I was able to function again, I was able to be a kid again.

I have attended Camp CHAT (Children Have Arthritis Too); this will be my 3rd year. I have learned how to cope with things on a daily basis but especially when I’m having a flare up. But the biggest lesson that I have learned is that I’m not the only kid dealing with Arthritis!!!! I like to play baseball, football, tennis, ride my bike, go camping and I love to swim.

Young Adult Honoree – Maria Vargo
Being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at a very young age as been a blessing in disguise. While I have, and still continue to have my limitations, it has taught me patience and acceptance. Through the Arthritis Foundation, I was able to meet some amazing and inspiring people, developed long lasting relationships as well as the ability to give back.

I have never let my disease define who I am as a person, but it has inspired to me do more for arthritis awareness and research. I have overcome many obstacles and will continue to fight the good fight. Your life might not go as you planned, but there are people who will continue to inspire you, and people you will inspire.

Meet Nandita-The 2012 Adult Honoree
“For as long as I can remember, I was surrounded by loved ones that suffered from arthritis. Both my mother and my grandmother were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age. My grandmother was born and raised in India and did not have access to the modern treatments that exist today. My mother was born in India but came to the United States when she was 25. She was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 33. She had modern treatments and medications but she developed numerous complications as a result of her arthritis which took her life at the age of 55.

I was 30 years old when my mom passed away. I had just had my first child. At 33, I began having joint pain. Due to the hereditary nature of the disease, I got myself tested. The doctor stated that my RH Factor came back positive but at a very low level… I was devastated. I did not want to go through the pain and suffering my mother went through. I wanted to be there for my kids & be able to care of them – not have them take care of me. As a result, I began a rigorous exercise routine. I also changed my diet and my sleeping habits. Eating right, exercising and sleeping well can be part of a cure for many diseases but I attribute these three things to helping me maintain my levels. I get tested every year and my results are now normal. I am trying really hard and keeping myself strong, in the hopes that I can fight this battle that took my mother and my grandmother from my life at a very young age. By speaking about my story, I hope that I can help and inspire others dealing with the same!