12 Years Old Youth Honoree
After a battery of tests confirmed the diagnosis, 7 year old Haylee Ellsworth learned what it's like to live with arthritis. She learned that she would no longer be able to keep up with her friends and that she couldn’t sit ‘criss cross applesauce’ in class. Her Mom, Emily, began the grieving process for a healthy child. Their family had to adjust to Saturdays no longer being the fun weekend day, but instead a day to rest after Friday became Halee's medication day.
“I knew something was wrong when my knee was hurting and I could not walk in the morning," said Haylee. "When I realized I had arthritis, I felt weird, nervous, sad and like I didn’t fit in. Having arthritis means I have say no to running, standing for long periods of time and sometimes dancing. I think it’s important for people to understand that arthritis means kids are in pain almost every day.”
Haylee’s life is now filled with tears, pain, heating pads, ice packs, doctor appointments and medications. She has to cut her activities short due to the pain and fatigue that comes with arthritis, however, she and her family have also gained many new friends and supporters who also live with arthritis and understand the related challenges.
Haylee finds joy in fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation and is confident that there will one day be a cure. She wants people to know that kids get arthritis too! As Haylee says, “It’s not just grandma and grandpa.”
“The Arthritis Foundation has helped us in so many ways," said Emily. "They have provided outlets for families to get together and know each other. They provide walks and events in which we can raise awareness and fundraise to find a cure. They also work hard to provide a camp just for kids with arthritis - a camp that Haylee looks forward to every year and never wants to leave. The Arthritis Foundation has been like family to us and we are forever grateful for all that they do.”
Help Haylee and the arthritis community by joining or donating to her Jingle Bell Run team, or registering for the event. Go to JBR.org/Atlanta.