Erin Madden reports in the Winnipeg Free Press that twelve-year-old Colin Johnson has had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since he was a toddler. The point of the article is not only to talk about how much Colin has suffered with his disease, and his bravery to do so, but that he is a volunteer for the Manitoba Arthritis Association in preparation for a May 15th “Walk to Fight Arthritis.” Moreover, Colin has influenced his school to undertake a virtual walk for arthritis, something he hopes other schools will do because it would teach children how important volunteerism is to communities.
For example, the article states:
“Each and every day, Colin Johnson is forced to deal with the pain of swollen joints and stiffness that comes from having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The disease prohibits Colin from doing some of the things he would like to do, which is especially tough considering he is just 12 years old. Diagnosed at just 19 months old, Colin’s dealing with the disease has always been a way of life.
But he’s hoping it doesn’t always have to be this way. That’s why Colin became a volunteer with the Arthritis Society of Manitoba.
‘When I was two, I got splints on my arms and legs. When I was in kindergarten and Grade 1, I had surgery done on my knees to help deal with the inflammation. I had to take lots of medicine and I had to use a walker. One time, it was so bad we had to take a wheelchair to the mall,’ Colin said, speaking of why he hopes he can be a part of finding a cure.
The sixth grader was recruited by the arthritis society after he was featured in a local newspaper story for his musical accomplishments.
This year, Colin will serve as the ambassador for the non-profit’s fundraising walk, The Walk to Fight Arthritis, on May 15 at Assiniboine Park. His story and voice are featured in public-service announcements for the event and Colin has spent time distributing information and educational materials at public events to help promote it.”
Check the link for the rest of the story.
Commentary: I posted this story for a couple of reasons. First, I published it in memory of my mother who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for the latter part of her life, actually requiring she retire from the federal civil service in her mid 50s because she had no use of her hands. I also published it because it shows that there are many types of special needs that require special services and public funding from our education and health care systems — something some parent advocacy groups seem to forget.