Why do I volunteer to raise funds to find a cure? Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in America. My journey with arthritis began over twenty-five years ago when I developed osteoarthritis in my left knee due to two surgeries. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I am fighting for a cure for me, for my family, and for other arthritis patients.
This year I became a volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation in Sacramento, CA. Shortly after joining, I was appointed to the Local Leadership Board of Directors. And to my surprise and joy, I was bestowed the honor of the 2017 Adult Honoree for the Sacramento Walk to Cure Arthritis. I am also an Arthritis Support Network Leader for the greater Sacramento area.
I have long known that many people think of arthritis as a disease you get as you age. Of course, that is true for many, but arthritis also strikes children, and can be fatal for some. Some variations of arthritis are also described as autoimmune diseases. I often refer to RA as invisible, because although I look healthy, exercise and watch what I eat, the inside of my body is being ravaged by joint and muscle pain, inflammation, and joint degeneration.
At this time there is no cure for arthritis and some arthritis related diseases. Some of the drugs on the market today only manage to help arthritis patients just so much. We have all seen the ads on television from various organizations asking for donations to support one disease or another. Most of them raise tremendous amounts of money each year to help find a cure for their specific disease. I want to help raise the funds it will take to cure our disease.
The Arthritis Foundation needs volunteers like myself and others to help secure donations. We simply cannot find a cure for arthritis unless the donations keep coming in. Being a fundraiser for the Walk to Cure was a very wonderful experience for me. I did not meet my goal for the amount of money I wanted to raise, which motivates me to do better next year. Many people I contacted for a donation simply refused for one reason or another. Even though I was frustrated, I kept on going because fundraising is the only way we are going to find a cure.
I have changed my strategy for fundraising for this year and in the future. First, I will start much earlier than the two months I had to fundraise for the Walk to Cure! I’ve held a fundraiser at a nearby restaurant for the next Walk to Cure and have already (tentatively) secured a spot for to fundraise for the Jingle Bell Run. If time allows, I may hold two of these! Thanks to my Arthritis Introspective group, I recently met another arthritis patient who has experience fundraising for major corporations. She will be working with me in the future to put together a professional and comprehensive business plan that I can present to potential donors And I will continue to ask for donations from people I meet every day, in person or on social media.
Finding a cure for arthritis and raising funds to do so is an important part of my life. I am passionate about finding a cure. My form of RA is an inheritable disease, but I do not know of any family members that have my type of RA. While I was born with RA, my form of the disease does not manifest itself until later in life. It can also be fatal. That is a heavy burden to carry, although I try not to think about it. I have two grown children and four young grandchildren. It is a very real possibility that one of these loved ones will inherit my RA. I will work tirelessly to help find a cure so that my children and/or grandchildren will not get my disease.
I fundraised before – for my kids’ schools, soccer and football teams, girls and boy scouts. But I had never done fundraising on such a huge scale. It was and is a labor of love for me, and gives me hope and strength to carry on with my disease so that I can help others.
This past spring, I represented the Arthritis Foundation as part of the California Advocacy Summit at my state Capitol. What an incredible experience! I happened to meet a little girl in our group who has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Her story, and the way she deals with her disease, is an inspiration to all of us living with arthritis. She is courageous and brave. She is another reason I fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation.
We all have our personal reasons for fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation. But together we are an army of dedicated volunteers working towards the goal of finding a cure for arthritis and arthritis related diseases.
I am a champion of YES.
Patrice resides in California and is the Arthritis Support Network leader in Sacramento. She was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. She is a Champion of Yes!