The day marks the Arthritis Foundation’s signature national fundraising event.
The Atlanta walk will feature a trio of local honorees who will share inspirational stories about their individual battles with the nation’s leading cause of disability.
This year’s special guests of honor include Emme Pennington, 5, of Dunwoody; Hunter Pruett, 10, of Cumming; and Vanessa Hamler, 41, of Powder Springs.
Pennington was diagnosed in December 2012 with the rarest form of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
She was born a very normal, happy and healthy baby girl in August 2008, said her mother, Amy Pennington.
“It wasn’t until four years later that we noticed the signs of her disease,” her mother said. “We had no idea what was about to unfold.
“The impact of Emme’s disease on our family has been great. As parents, we try to keep our kids’ environment as normal and consistent as possible, but sometimes we fall short.”
What people forget is arthritis doesn’t just impact the child with arthritis, Emme’s mother said. It impacts the entire family and it is difficult for all members of the family to cope and adjust to their “new normal.”
After suffering pain that made it impossible for her to walk, the youngster started receiving treatment and now enjoys participating in swimming, gymnastics and soccer.
Pruett was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at age 5½ and is a national ambassador for the foundation. In that role, she has traveled to Washington to speak with Congress about finding a cure.
Hamler was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in March 2012 and has since become a national ambassador who attends health fairs and other events on behalf of the foundation.
Arthritis is a crippling disease that impacts more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in America — or about 22 percent of the population.
“Arthritis is costly, painful and debilitating, and makes a significant impact in the lives of people in your community,” said Atlanta Corporate Chairman John Coalson of Alston & Bird LLP. “By participating in and raising funds for Atlanta’s Walk to Cure Arthritis, you will help us reach our goal of raising $250,000 to remove the burden of arthritis entirely by bringing us closer to a cure.”
The disease costs the U.S. economy $128 billion a year, and is a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Funds raised through the Atlanta walk will go toward programs, research and advocacy initiatives.