About 6 months ago, I got a call from a very close friend. "So Carol, tell me what I need to know about Juvenile Arthritis."
My heart sank. I developed JRA when I was 12. My friend's eight year old daughter had an appointment with a rheumatologist and was beginning to experience the telltale symptoms of arthritis. It just zapped me back to those early days of arthritis and knowing with some certainty that my life had been hijacked.
The problem with feeling that one's life has been hijacked is that over time such feelings begin to eat at one's feelings of self-confidence and self-efficacy. In a nutshell, I felt like I would always have to look at my limitations before being able to do something. I certainly didn't like that feeling so I rebelled against it, sometimes (my mother would say oftentimes) in unhealthy ways.
So yesterday, I hear of another friend's daughter who will likely soon be diagnosed with arthritis. Thus, today, I have decided that they way I will help is by drawing attention to a fairly new organization that is working to put a smile on the faces of kids with arthritis and hopefully giving them a springboard toward developing the skills and outlook that will enable them to reclaim their hijacked lives.
Jeffrey Gottfurcht was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 27. His reaction... jump in and do something for kids with the disease. "Jeffrey wanted to share his determination to fight Rheumatoid Arthritis while bringing joy, strength and support to others afflicted with this lifelong disease. Jeffrey chose to focus on fulfilling the dreams of children suffering from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis because as a father of 3, he understands the importance of creating positive memories in a child’s life. The Foundation hopes to inspire, educate and generate awareness while those suffering with this lifelong disease optimistically await a cure."
Jeff's foundation arranges and funds "dreams" of kids with JRA, similar to the Make a Wish Foundation. These experiences demonstrate that 1. people care and 2. asking for something/help is not always a bad thing (something everyone with arthritis needs to learn because there will be some jar or container somewhere who will defy all your efforts to open it). I know these two lessons have served me well. It wasn't but just three days ago, I asked a random stranger to open the gas cap on my car when I needed to fill up (BTW: you get weird looks, but no one ever says no).
To date, JGCAF has funded 7 wishes with more to come. Click here to read about them. In a press release, JGCAF says:
"Dream requests received in late 2009 and early 2010 as the Foundation was being formed reflect the quiet spirit of many of the children afflicted with juvenile arthritis—the majority of the 100+ requests received to date are for assistance with educational costs, followed by help with medical costs and assistance to offset household hardships, like the loss of a car or internet service that resulted from hardship brought on by the family’s escalating health costs. Other wishes asked for help in obtaining computer equipment that would provide the child with better visibility or mobility, such as a big screen computer or Wii system.
Frivolous dreams are certainly a possibility and we’re open to those—but the reality is kids with arthritis are sensitive and self-aware. We’re working hard to raise funds to be able to grant as many wishes as possible,” added Gottfurcht."
Click here to read more about JGCAF.
Send Your DollarDirectly on the JGCAF site: Click here
Via Snail Mail to: 9440 Santa Monica Boulevard - 8th Floor Beverly Hills , CA 90210