SOMERS, N.Y. -- Jared Heller of Somers has fought arthritis since he was a toddler. Now, the 14-year-old Somers High School freshman is closing in on his goal of $10,000 to help raise awareness about arthritis.
Heller is the youth honoree for the 2015 Westchester Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, at Purchase College. Heller’s team, Jared’s Jinglers, has raised more than $9,000 for the cause. The team fundraising goal is $10,000. Money raised for the event go towards research, support, advocacy and juvenile arthritis.
“I am happy to be this year’s youth honoree,’’ said Heller, whose family learned when he was three years old that he had arthritis. “My main goal is to show the world that arthritis affects people of all ages. Over 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis.”
“My main goal is to show the world that arthritis affects people of all ages. Over 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis. -- Jared Heller”
Jared was born with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He had been receiving early intervention services because he was a late crawler. A physical therapist working with Jared at the time encouraged the family to have him evaluated by a rheumatologist since his mother suspected something else might be contributing to his motor skills difficulty. Jared's parents, Jill and Bruce, feel very fortunate that they received a correct diagnosis so early on.
Jared took oral medication for a few years until it stopped being an effective treatment. He now receives injections and has a full range of motion in his joints.
“Ever since that day, over 11 years ago, I have seen Dr. Thomas Lehman every 6 weeks,’’ Jared wrote about his treatment for arthritis. “Daily medications and bloodwork prior to each appointment was my normal routine. Unfortunately when oral medications were no longer effective enough for my symptoms, my mother started giving me weekly injections by the age of 6. Then six years after that, it was time for another change as my body no longer responded to that drug. The injections I have now been getting for the last two years are more painful, but I am grateful that we found something else to keep my arthritis under control.
“My own experience is proof that this disease, as well as its treatment, is unpredictable,’’ he added. “I personally understand how important it is to support the medical research to continually find new and improved treatment options, and better yet, efforts towards a cure."
Jared has recruited 51 other people for his team, including his younger siblings Jesse and Samantha. Jared’s Jinglers is the top fundraising team for the event, which has raised over $104,000.
The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is 5k event opens at 9 a.m. and the run/walk begins at 10 a.m. New members are welcome to join Heller’s team. People can also support the race by registering to run, walk or kids fun run. The event is also accepting sponsorships.
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