The Arthritis Foundation New England Region has named 8-year-old Ashley Guerrera of Newtown the Youth Ambassador for the 2014 Danbury Walk to Cure Arthritis. As an ambassador, Ashley will be a large part in helping the Danbury Walk to Cure Arthritis reach its fundraising goal of $57,550.
Walk to Cure Arthritis is the Arthritis Foundation’s largest annual fundraising event, with local events hosted in Danbury on April 27, in Hartford May 5, and in New Haven October 5.
Funds raised through the event support Arthritis Foundation programs, research and advocacy initiatives to help people live better today while finding a cure for the number one cause of disability in the United States tomorrow.
Ashley has been living with juvenile arthritis, but she sees herself as a very lucky girl.
She was diagnosed at 18 months when she stopped walking because of her severe pain, but thanks to her pediatrician, she was quickly referred to a knowledgeable pediatric rheumatologist to diagnose and treat the arthritis.
Ms Guerrera said while her family and daughter were blessed to receive immediate and expert care, she supports the Arthritis Foundation’s efforts to recruit medical students and physicians to take on the specialty of pediatric rheumatology.
“We’re so lucky to have great doctors and amazing medications that have made all the difference,” Ms Guererra said. “But it’s concerning to me that in many areas of the country, folks just like us have no access to these pediatric specialists.”
The Guererra family and an enthusiastic group of friends have been supporting Ashley and the Danbury walk for five years, and they are hoping to see a larger group of Newtown friends and neighbors at the April 27 event in Danbury
Ashley will certainly be on hand to walk along with participants, because outside of her weekly medication, there are no signs that she has arthritis. Today, thanks to her expert care and the support of the Arthritis Foundation, she is regularly playing with friends, doing gymnastics, and swimming.
The Foundation is working toward creating these success stories for the other one in five adults and 300,000 children in America that are struggling with arthritis.
Ashley and her family have been chosen to represent the organization to stand up as advocates for the cause. They say, “The Arthritis Foundation is a key part of helping us with questions, resources, and friends as we continue to work towards a cure.”
To learn more about the fight to cure arthritis, visit arthritiswalk.org.