2012 Advocacy Summit in D.C.

So…should I go? I signed up last year and then canceled because I was going through a weird time of having anxiety attacks (see older posts for more info on that). I’ve been wanting to go to this summit for a few years now and I keep finding reasons (excuses) to not go. Well, the main reason is that I can’t really afford it. Right now I’m trying so hard to pay off bills and to get out of debt. Yet here come the expensive medical bills once again. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Anyway! I’m also bummed out that I missed the chance to apply for two different travel grants/scholarships offered by the Arthritis Foundation for the summit. I’m always missing deadlines, dammit! But, you know, my instinct keeps telling me to just go for it. I would love to be able to meet with members of Congress to urge them to support funding for arthritis research and other arthritis and health care issues. It’s something that I’m very passionate about and I want to get more involved with the political side of advocacy.

Here’s more info online about the summit:

The 2012 Advocacy Summit


Arthritis Walk 2011

The Arthritis Walk 2011, Edina, MN

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while but I’ve been busy working at a new temp job for the last month and doing a million other things – doctor’s appointments, photography stuff, volunteer work, passing out on the couch, etc. Last weekend was a busy one, but it was pretty good. The Arthritis Foundation’s annual Arthritis Walk was held at a lovely park in Edina last Saturday morning. I volunteered to take photos again for my local chapter, The Upper Midwest Region. Luckily it was a perfect, beautiful day for the walk and a lot of people participated in the event, raising money for the Arthritis Foundation. Also exciting, a few of my photos were shown on the local news broadcast later that night (KARE 11 News/NBC) and I was credited for them (this did not happen last year)!  As soon as I get a chance I’ll upload the photos to the MN chapter’s Shutterfly site:


The Arthritis Walk, Sept. 24, 2011

Casino Night

Sunday night I took photos at Justin Morneau’s Casino Night which has become an annual fundraising event put on by the Arthritis Foundation’s North Central chapter. Justin Morneau is the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins baseball team and started the event in 2009 to raise funds and create awareness about arthritis. He became involved with the Arthritis Foundation after his niece was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age two. This was the second year I took photographs at the event as a volunteer, and I think I managed to get some good shots (I hope).

Casino Night sold out this year with over 400 people attending the event. The guests were excited to have the chance to socialize and “gamble” with Twins players while raising money to go toward funding research and services for people suffering from arthritis. Taking photos at Casino Night was a lot of fun, but it was also an added bonus to be able to talk with friends I’ve made through volunteering for the Arthritis Foundation for the last 11 years. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I’ve been lucky to meet some very kind, supportive, inspiring and fantastic people while doing volunteer work. I can’t recommend it enough.

If you would like to see some of the photos from Casino Night, check out the Arthritis Foundation’s Shutterfly site:  http://arthritisfoundation.shutterfly.com

JAM 2011

All of the kids wearing black t-shirts have arthritis

Sorry it’s taken me so long to post about JAM, but I’ve been dealing with a particularly painful flare-up for the last few weeks.  My right wrist was especially bad, which made typing difficult. GOOD NEWS – the flare-up is much better!  And, I didn’t have to go back on prednisone.  I just kept trying to eat healthy, stayed off caffeine, took fish oil capsules consistently, and tried to get more sleep.  With this mysterious disease, who knows really why the flare-up occurred and/or why it’s now better.  I wish I had some answers instead of guesses.  I’m so happy to not be in such pain anymore though – I hope it lasts.

Here are a few photos that I took at the Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) at the Mall of America March 5th.  It was my second year photographing JAM for the Arthritis Foundation and it proved once again to be an excellent event.  My only complaint is that I feel I maybe got better photos last year.  For some reason, the Arthritis Foundation had TWO additional people taking photos.  These two girls really got on my nerves by the end of the walk because they kept jumping in front of me “stealing” my shots.  I don’t know why three people were needed to take candid shots.  But anyway, it was a great experience again and really inspiring to see all of the people who participated in the walk and who raised money for the Arthritis Foundation.

If you’re interested, you can see more photos on the Arthritis Foundation’s Shutterfly site:  http://arthritisfoundation.shutterfly.com

The kids loved watching the band Koo Koo Kangaroo perform onstage


JAM 2010, Mall of America

This Saturday is the annual Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) which is held at the Mall of America in Bloomington.  It’s a pretty big event with families walking together in order to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation.  I took photos at JAM last year for the first time which was also the beginning of my volunteer work photographing other Arthritis Foundation events.  I’m really looking forward to helping out again (despite needing to arrive there at 6:30 AM).  It’s inspiring to see so many people coming together to work hard for such a personal cause.  All of the kids (and adults) wearing blue T-shirts last year were people who had some form of arthritis.  I was 18 years old when I was diagnosed with RA, which is very young, but it’s nothing compared to the courageous little kids who are forced to deal with this debilitating disease at such young ages.  Suddenly having the intense physical and emotional pain of RA thrust upon me at age 18 was incredibly devastating, yet I’m very grateful I was able to have a normal pain-free childhood. Many of the kids who participate in JAM each year will most likely never be able to experience that.  Finding a cure for arthritis is important for everyone who suffers from the disease – but especially for the little ones.  No child should have to suffer from constant pain.