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Hundreds of people descend on Magic Mountain for Arthritis Walk

Posted: June 4, 2012 3:55 a.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 3:55 a.m.

Participants take part in the Arthritis Walk at Magic Mountain on Sunday.

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If any of the nearly 2,000 participants in this year's Let's Move Together annual Arthritis Walk at Six Flags Magic Mountain started the race thinking arthritis was an old person's disease, they had many small reminders that it affects young people as well.

On Sunday at 9 a.m., members of families, such as McLaughlins of Stevenson Ranch, walked with hundreds of supporters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the photo of a child afflicted with arthritis.

"It's great to see everyone out here," said Garrett McLaughlin, whose 10-year-old daughter Taylor was diagnosed with arthritis five years ago.

"As a parent, when you first hear about your son or daughter first being diagnosed, it's something you might never have heard of, and you don't know where to go. But, you come out here and you realize there's a whole community and that's what's really been helpful."

The McLaughlins had just finished walking the one-mile route.

Others chose to walk the alternate three-mile route around the inside of the amusement park.

Either way, hundreds turned out to raise money and awareness about arthritis, which remains the nation's No. 1 cause of disability, according to organizers.

Jena Minassian, 19, of the Santa Clarita Valley, was named this year's young adult honoree for having launched a local arthritis support group, which now boasts more than 100 members.

After she stepped on stage to reveal how she's struggled with arthritis, Minassian introduced a girl half her age as being a sufferer as well, making it clear to all that much of Sunday's awareness was about dispelling misconceptions about arthritis.

"It is not an old person's disease," Minassian told participants before the walk.

"Look at us," she said, with her arm around 10-year-old Jordan Howe. "We're not old. We should not have to be dealing with this disease."

She pointed out, as well, that arthritis is lethal and not just a painful affliction tolerated by millions.

"Another thing people don't like to talk about when it comes to arthritis is that does kill people," she said, citing a figure of 9,367 people who died of the disease in one year.

More than 50 million Americans, one in five adults, suffer daily from some form of arthritis and chronic joint pain, according to the Arthritis Foundation event promoters.

There are about half a million people in the Valley region alone who suffer from arthritis.

The Arthritis Walk is the Arthritis Foundation's signature event that takes place in communities nationwide to raise funds and awareness to fight arthritis.

Those showing up Sunday, under June gloom clouds before the actual walk, found more than a dozen convention-style kiosks set up under tents on the south side of the amusement park.

There was a kids zone with games and face painting, free donuts and free health information.

Arthritis sufferers donned blue "hero" hats. Many wore T-shirts with arthritis slogans, including the black "arthritis sucks" T-shirts worn by Minassian supporters.




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