Arthritis Support Networks are Not Your Average Support Groups!
When one thinks of support groups, one might picture individuals sitting in a circle, in a basement, crying into Styrofoam cups of bad coffee. We’ve heard our members tell tales of avoiding arthritis support groups because the last thing they want is to spend an hour listening to people complain about how much arthritis sucks (to be blunt). That’s not us!
Arthritis Introspective was the vision of president and founder, Kevin Purcell. Kevin was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) as a pre-teen. As the only “kid” with arthritis he knew, Kevin felt greatly misunderstood by his peers and found himself more and more isolated as the disease and the years progressed. At age 25, Kevin found a young adult group designed specifically for people like him - those living with arthritis at a young age. He was touched by the members of that group because although they had a disease, they were not being defined by it.
As Kevin began volunteering with different arthritis organizations across the country, he met more and more people his age who were seeking an organization that addressed their particular challenges. Kevin saw the opportunity to create a supportive network for people living with arthritis from young through middle adulthood. Kevin founded AI with and for people living with all forms of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases.
In 2007, Kevin recruited several friends from the arthritis community, each with their own experiences both with arthritis and its related charities. Kevin and friends created a Board of Directors and in December of 2007, AI was granted 501(c)(3) status. Now years later, we continue to recognize the contributions of our founding members: Kevin Purcell, Deserae Constantineau, Donna Fox, Samantha Johnson, Annette Beach, and David Black. While board members may move on, the founding team members remain strong participants and we recognize their contributions to the development and creation of the Arthritis Support Network and the National Gathering Conference.
In 2016 Arthritis Introspective joined the Arthritis Foundation, as part of an expanding range of resources that provide personalized help and support to people with all types of arthritis and related conditions. The combined talents, reach and capabilities of both organizations will enhance community-based outreach for more people living with arthritis and rheumatic diseases. We look forward to growing the Arthritis Support Networks and offering connection, education and empowerment to people living with arthritis.