Meet Our Honorees for the 9th Annual Event!
Casadie was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) at age 4. Prior to Casadie’s diagnosis we had always noticed her knees were more rounded, but at that time just figured it was her body shape and she would grow into them. Casadie never once complained of being in any pain or that anything ever bothered her. It wasn’t until Casadie’s gymnastics teacher pointed out that her wrists seemed very stiff and lacked normal range of motion that we decided to have her wrists examined by a pediatric orthopedic doctor. As soon as we met with the doctor, we had a very bad feeling there might be something much more serious going on with her. The doctor began to thoroughly check Casadies’ fingers, toes, knees, and ankles, while the whole time we were wondering what her toes had to do with her wrist. The orthopedic doctor informed us she thought it might be juvenile arthritis, and more tests would need to be completed to confirm. Over the next couple months Casadie would undergo X-rays, MRI, blood work, and many more examinations which would ultimately confirm the orthopedic doctor’s suspicions of JIA.
Upon her diagnosis, we were referred to a wonderful Pediatric Rheumatologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital. During Casadie’s initial visit, she was diagnosed with 11 inflamed joints. Her specialists recommended we immediately get her on an aggressive treatment routine to reduce the inflammation and prevent further joint damage. Through help from the Arthritis Foundation, her doctors and much research, we felt that fighting this disease aggressively was the best treatment for Casadie. From that day forward she has had to receive two injections a week, and take two other medications orally. We had to learn how to administer the injections ourselves which is something no parent wants to put their own child through. As you can imagine administering shots to a four year old wasn’t easy, but ultimately our amazing Casadie was brave and strong, and even learned how to swallow a pill on her own in no time at all. A few months into the treatment Casadie was riding her bike one day and looked up to us and said “My knees don’t hurt anymore.” At that moment we realized she had been in pain from the arthritis her whole young life but didn’t realize any different.
Casadie is now almost 8 years old and is doing great! Over the last three and half years we have been able to eliminate a majority of her medications, and are now down to one single injection every other week. She has been in medicated remission with no signs of JIA for over two years now. Our hope is that she will continue on this positive path and we can eventually eliminate all medications entirely. Casadie is an amazing athlete; she excels at soccer and gymnastics. She is also looking forward to starting hip hop dance in the spring. She plays and runs with children at her school, and you would never know she has JIA. The great work of organizations like the Fruitcakes in the Alley team, and the Arthritis Foundation, have helped children like Casadie thrive regardless of this disease. Our family is so thankful and looks forward to a future when arthritis is a thing of the past.
My precious little girl, Sarah, was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis this past year at the age of 3 years old. It all started one morning in January, when she woke up saying her hands weren’t right. Sure enough, her fingers were curled over on both hands, and when I tried to straighten them, she screamed. I knew immediately something was wrong.
Unfortunately, receiving the correct diagnosis did not come as quickly. It took about three months of numerous doctor appointments, blood tests, and one MRI. During this testing period, Sarah progressively got worse. One day after playing a board game on the floor with me, she tried to get up, but couldn’t. “Mommy, I need help getting up, I’m stuck.” I was heartbroken. The doctors still didn’t have an answer as to what was happening to my little girl, and I was watching her everyday get worse and worse.
While the doctors threw out the possibility of JRA, they weren’t sure because she didn’t display the typical signs. At one point, cancer was mentioned as a possibility. It was a very scary and stressful time for all of us. Thank God, as more time passed, and more tests were performed, and more doctors reviewed Sarah’s history and her symptoms, she finally received a confirmed diagnosis of JRA, and then began treatment. For Sarah’s type of JRA, two medications administered by weekly injections are what has gotten it under control. Only months later, Sarah is now in complete remission, and shows no signs of JRA. She will continue this treatment regimen for at least 18 months before trying to lower the doses.
Thanks to the wonderful efforts of organizations such as the Parrot Heads of Central Florida, research and awareness for this disease are being funded and acknowledged. We are honored that you have chosen Sarah as an honoree for the Fruitcakes in the Alley fundraiser, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you are doing to help these kids! Sarah’s Mom, Rachel
Prior Year Honorees:
2016 – Trent Diebold
2016 – Eliza Manriquez
2015 – Macy Moss
2014 – Allie Yesbeck
2013 – Delaney Hutchinson
2013 – Sadie Veselka
2012 – Parker Lentini
2011 – Alexa Anderson
2011 – Sophia Vrolijk
2010 – Rachel Haas
2010 – Sydney Pickens
2009 – Hunter Brown