Meet our Honorees
Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Mackenzie was officially diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) in November 2012 at the age of two. She first began showing symptoms in July of that year when she began to have trouble walking, climbing, playing, sleeping and every other activity a healthy two-year-old does and she suddenly developed lumps on the backs of her hands as well. Her parents became concerned and brought her to the doctor.
The next few months were difficult as they continued to watch her decline and undergo test after test to try and find a reason for her distress. In November the answer came that she had JIA. Mackenzie has encountered all the typical symptoms and treatments associated with this disease... swollen joints, fatigue, chronic pain, daily oral medications, weekly injections, frequent blood work, numerous trips to doctors' offices and physical therapy.
In the early Spring of 2016 Mackenzie thought she had her miracle and that she was on her way to remission. All of her medications were stopped, and she was doing well. However, in the early part of the Summer of 2016 she relapsed. The remainder of 2016 was extremely hard on Mackenzie as she learned to cope again with the pain and fatigue associated with arthritis and the disappointments of missing out on childhood activities and school when the pain was just too much. She struggles a great deal in the winter with pain when the Michigan winter temperatures feel like they are below twenty degrees and she is often forced to remain inside during her recess time to avoid the cold while her friends continue to play like normal. Today Mackenzie is a fourth grade student who loves reading, gymnastics, and volleyball and does her best to educate others about this disease.
Young Adult Honoree
Sydney was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2014 during high school at the age of 15. Sydney started showing symptoms when she was 13-14 years old. It began with injuries at cheer. They just wouldn’t heal like a normal child’s would. A sprained ankle would feel like she shattered it. She then started experiencing pain all over her body. Not only her joints, but her muscles, tendons and bones. It had gotten to the point where she could not go to school and her mom had to carry her just to go to the bathroom. This is when her mom acted.
This was very difficult for her mom considering she also had fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. After several doctors turning her away, her mom took it into her own hands. She and Sydney researched and they found out about fibromyalgia. She was diagnosed shortly after. After a few years she was able to go back to school and go to college.
She thought her life was finally getting back on track. Then last year in October of 2018, Sydney started experiencing severe joint pain. She could barely move her hands and couldn’t manage to fit rings on her fingers that had fit perfectly before. She went to her fibromyalgia doctor and got diagnosed with seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. She is starting to get better and is going to look into treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis soon. Sydney continues to workout in cross-fit, participate in gymnastics, and lead an active lifestyle and be an example to all people with arthritis, that you can follow your dreams.
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