Doctors repeatedly told her mother, Melissa Mays, that it was hives, but the symptoms didn’t cease. Finally, a breakthrough of a diagnosis: Jacey was suffering from systemic onset juvenile arthritis.
“It’s not the answer we wanted, but (it was) just having somewhere to start with where we could get her to feeling better,” said Mays.
Now 8 years old, Jacey will be the youth honoree for the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis at State Mutual Stadium on Dec. 15. The event will offer a 5K timed fun run, a one-mile fun walk and a Santa Chase for kids ages 2 to 5. Other honorees include Bill Thornton as the adult honoree and Dr. Sidney Bell as the medical honoree.
With arthritis as the national leading cause of disability, the first-ever event will serve to raise awareness and funds for the nonprofit foundation that will help send kids in Rome with arthritis to camp and bring exercise programs such as aquatics, exercise, Tai Chi and Walk With Ease to the area.
“Moving is the best medicine,” said M. Wade Kelley, regional development and services director for the Arthritis Foundation in East Tennessee and North Georgia. He explained that the event encourages that motto with bringing people together to exercise.
“Arthritis affects one in five adults and affects people in Rome just like any other community,” said Kelley.
Dr. Keith Rott, a rheumatologist at Harbin Clinic and chair of the local committee for the event, said many of the treatments that help improve the lives of people with arthritis have come through the foundation’s work, and he’s happy to be a part of it.
“It helps raise awareness that arthritis isn’t just something your grandmother gets, but it affects all ages,” said Rott.
Attendees should dress festive for the family-friendly event and wear holiday costumes. Register online at www.romejbrw.org or call 423-341-4788. On event day registration will start at 8:30 a.m. The 5K walk/run race will start at 10 a.m.