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Kids walk for arthritis awareness

Posted: May 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Walkers assemble at the starting line of the annual Arthritis Walk at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday. Organizers said more than 1,000 people participated, many of them children. Photo by Jim Holt.

 

More than 1,000 people turned out for the annual Arthritis Walk at Six Flags Magic Mountain Sunday morning, many of them children.

Every year, event organizers select a local child to put a face on a disease that many still hold as an old person’s ailment.

This year, that child was 9-year-old Allyson Absey.

“I got diagnosed in 2011, after an eye exam when they found cataracts in my right eye,” she told the crowd from the podium. Doctors removed the lens from Allyson’s right eye and delivered the news that she had arthritis.

“Because of the money raised here, I get to go to Camp Esperanza,” Absey said. “And, I get to spend five days at camp with children who have the same ailment as me.”

Camp Esperanza is sponsored by the Pacific Region of the Arthritis Foundation and offers an opportunity for children with arthritis and related diseases to enjoy all the wonders of a traditional camp experience in a comfortable, medically supervised environment.

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

Helping raise money for this year’s event was lThis year’s ast year’s Youth Honoree, Taylor McLaughlin, 10.

The girls in McLaughlin’s Girl School Troop 472 put on an old-fashioned bake sale to raise money and to earn a Girl Scout’s Bronze Award.

“The girls are trying to earn their Bronze Award,” said scout leader Gillian Pluma. “So they thought this would be a good project.”

Girl Scout Allie Smithson, 13, said: “You do this journey where you get to go out and help people.

“And we’re helping her,” she said, pointing to her friend Taylor.

Asked why she and her fellow girl scouts decided to hold a bake sale, McLaughlin said: “a lot of people come to cake sales.”

Participants pursued either a one-mile or three-mile walk through the amusement park.

As they prepared for their walk with a few exercises, event emcee Josh Rubenstein kept the focus on children.

“Arthritis, as we know, isn’t something that just affects old people,” he said. “We grew with the common thinking that it’s an old person’s thing, and if you’re old and have arthritis, that’s what happens when you’re old.

“The message we want to send today is that it affects everybody,” he said. “You would be hard pressed to live here and not know someone with arthritis, especially a child.”

Funds raised in the annual walk support research for new treatments and a cure for arthritis, according to organizers.

Arthritis is the number one cause of disability, they said.

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