By Beth Kalet
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 04/16/13
Just a few weeks after learning she had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Emily Scrobe transformed from a soccer player out with an injury to an active participant for finding a cure and raising the profile of a disease she hadn't known existed.
Emily, now 15 and a ninth-grader at Chester Academy, has a ready smile, a positive attitude and a caring group of friends. They stood beside her when that smile led others in school to think Emily was "faking" her problems. They called her a liar, too, since she bore no outward signs of the painful condition that can have so many dire consequences.
But her friends rallied to her side and produced a poignant YouTube video about Emily and her diagnosis. The goal was to teach others about arthritis.
Emily recognized that she couldn't keep her condition a secret. "I'm trying to become more of an advocate, sharing my story, so I can let other people know and they can become more aware," Emily said.
Emily is this year's young adult honoree at the 2013 Hudson Valley Arthritis Walk. The event will be held May 4 at Thomas Bull Park in Montgomery. Visit arthritis.org for information on the Arthritis Foundation or hvaw.kintera.org for details on the Hudson Valley Walk.
Goals of the arthritis walk
This fundraising event has multiple purposes: to raise funds for research; to raise awareness of the many individuals of all ages who are affected by arthritis; to educate about the disease; to bring people who have arthritis and their family and friends out for a good day.
Eight-year-old Jailyn Labuda of Wurtsboro is this year's youth honoree. She was diagnosed with JRA, polyarticular arthritis, at age 4, and while her family sought treatment, one of the very first things they did was to get in touch with others in their situation. When they found out about the Arthritis Walk, they jumped right in. "We immediately took interest in it, and we started raising awareness and fundraising for it. We've participated in it for four years now," says Kezia Labuda, Jailyn's mother.
In March, Jailyn wrote and delivered a short speech at the Walk kickoff breakfast. She looks forward to the walk, she said, because she likes "doing all the stuff there ... there's a playground, you take a walk and see some dogs."
Animals get arthritis, too
While participants can bring their pets along for the walk, one feature of the annual event is the Dog Pen, which highlights the fact that arthritis affects animals, too. This year's pet honoree is Bailey, a 12-year-old beagle.
Jodi Pound of Bloomingburg is the adult honoree this year. "I've had arthritis since I was 19 and I'm 45 now, so it's been quite a while," Pound said. "When I first was diagnosed there weren't the medications that are out there now. It's important to me to raise money for research and to raise awareness that this is a young person's disease. It is not just an old person's disease."
Improving lives, raising awareness
Combating that perception is a big focus of the Arthritis Walk.
Dr. Jonathan Rudnick, a physician at Crystal Run Healthcare, is this year's medical honoree. He practices physical medicine and rehabilitation. "My mission is pretty much related to the mission of the Arthritis Foundation," he said, "working on research and improving the lives of these patients."
Like the other honorees, Rudnick will be bringing along a team of walkers to participate in the event, all of whom will help raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation and its cause.
"Our motto," Rudnick said, is "Less pain, more gain."