Hundreds of people will come together in Charlotte this weekend to support the fight against arthritis.
The annual Charlotte-area Walk to Cure Arthritis will take place Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m. at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy. There is no cost to participate in the walk, but donations are encouraged and will benefit the Arthritis Foundation.
This is the seventh year the foundation has hosted the walk in Charlotte at the Whitewater Center, organizers said. The foundation uses funds raised to finance research and patients’ programs, as well as promote education within the community – something that’s crucial to early detection, Stephani Tucker, with the foundation, said.
“When (arthritis is) detected early, doctors can use the right treatments and are able to take care of (issues) faster,” Tucker said.
There are currently more than 53 million people in the United States dealing with arthritis, with 5.7 million of those in the mid-Atlantic region and about 1.8 million in North Carolina. There also are about 8,400 children in the region living with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and only two pediatric rheumatologists in the Charlotte area and five in the entire state. The condition can show up in children as young as 18 months old and can lead to other health conditions later in life.
“The bad news is that children go on to have diabetes, cardiologic issues (and other health conditions) because they are so immobile,” Tucker said. That’s why the foundation hopes to help place more pediatric rheumatologists in the area. “Children are affected every single day, and it never goes away.”
Wingate University senior Kathryn Rand knows what it’s like to live with the daily struggles related to arthritis. Rand was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 19 years old and said it’s been a struggle to manage the symptoms and find the right combination of medications.
“It’s been a constant battle and is really difficult to live with,” Rand said.
But she’s determined to see the positive side of a tough situation. She’s still able to play golf and exercise – swimming is the best, she said – and uses her story to help others, particularly people her age struggling with arthritis.
“I hope that people can see that it has been an eye opener to realize how blessed I am,” said Rand, who is studying to become a physical therapist and plans to participate in the Walk to Cure Arthritis on Saturday for the first time. “… I want to be able to relate to people who have it … and help people cope with it because I’ve found it’s the best way to get through it.”
The walk also will include a boat race for the top four fundraisers and perks for those who raise $100 or more. Find more information at www.walktocurearthritischarlotte.kintera.org.