Tag Archives: Champion of Yes
volkenburg brothers arthritis foundation fundraising

They said they were going to do it and, by golly, they did it – in record time!

Earlier this year, brothers Tom and Greg Van Volkenburg decided they were going to swim across Lake Erie, a distance of 24.3 miles, in honor of their mom, Debbie, who has battled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for most of her life.

Continue reading Brothers Battle Gigantic Duck and 5 Foot Waves in Record Setting Swim Across Lake Erie

volkenburg brothers arthritis foundation fundraising

Competitive swimming is a difficult sport. Athletes spend hours every day going back and forth in a pool with their heads mostly under water honing their skills and techniques hoping to shave tenths of a second off their times.

Continue reading Brothers to Swim Across Lake Erie in Honor of their Mother and to Support the Arthritis Community

alex jacobson

People climb mountains for many reasons. For some, it’s a test of physical strength and endurance. For others, it’s for the rush and exhilaration. For Alex Jakobson, it was to prove to himself that he can overcome the pain and limitations of arthritis.

Alex was living a great life when arthritis reared its ugly head. He was 35 years old, married to his sweetheart and living in France where he enjoyed a very social and active lifestyle.
Continue reading Climbing Mountains to Conquer Arthritis

David Fortanbary Mt/ Ranier

If you ask him, David Fortanbary has always been an “outdoorsy person,” and when you talk to him, you can hear his ambition and zest for life ringing loud and clear. Couple those things with the impact arthritis has had on his immediate family, and you’ll understand the makings of one of our most passionate volunteers.

David is all too familiar with just how severe arthritis can be. His father passed away in 2013 due to complications from arthritis. As David recalls, “He got a hip replacement that went bad because of progressive arthritis. When he went back in for a revision procedure, he didn’t make it out of surgery.”

While the loss was obviously a significant and devastating one for David and his family, he took it as an opportunity to make an equally significant commitment to his father’s legacy and the arthritis community as a whole.
Continue reading Until There’s a Cure, We Climb – David Fortanbary Takes Commitment to a Whole New Level

Dina Gilmore Champion of Yes Massage Therapist

massage therapist arthritisDina Gilmore has many titles — former athlete, artist, arthritis advocate and author, just to name a few. But, the title she’s most proud of is healer.

Dina discovered that she had healing hands when her sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“I would always give my sister massages at home to help with her pain,” recalls Dina. “I was working a job in sales, and my sister said, ‘you ought to go to massage school.’”

Continue reading Healing Hands: Dina Turns Her Pain Into Helping Others

NYC Marathon Arthritis

Jill Konopka NYC Marathon ArthritisTo look at her now, you’d never know that just a few years ago, Jill Konopka struggled just to open a jar of peanut butter.

“Literally, being able to twist open a jar by myself seemed like the biggest accomplishment,” recalls Jill. “I couldn’t even turn the shower head. It was humbling.”

A former Division III college athlete and current local news reporter, Jill was sidelined by a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in her late 20s.

“I was shocked,” says Jill. “Here I was this young, active woman. Then one day I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed.”

Continue reading Running Toward Yes: Arthritis Foundation Marathon Team Takes on TCS New York City Marathon

Dina Gilmore Champion of Yes Massage Therapist

Zane Breier Scleroderma Morphea Champion of YesArthritis, especially when it affects children, can result in having to say No to many, many things. Just getting out of bed can be a challenge, let alone battling big insurance or pharmaceutical companies to gain access to care that’s needed to manage the disease. While we do all we can to help increase the number of everyday victories, there are times when big victories are achieved in the lives of those with arthritis. And when they are, we celebrate them.

Just this past month, after a three-year-long fight, Zane Breier, who suffers from scleroderma morphea, achieved one of these victories. Last year, in the middle of his fight, Zane was our Youth Honoree for the Jingle Bell Run event in San Diego, helping raise awareness, support and funds for our collective fight against arthritis. At the same time, his condition was rapidly declining and began to spread and affect more areas of his body. Plastic surgery became a consideration, as Zane’s face, tongue and eyes were affected by his disease. He had to have gum grafts, and he and his family began to lose hope. The fight became tiring and the obstacles felt insurmountable.
Continue reading Arthritis Foundation Helps Achieve a Big Victory in One Boy’s Fight Against Arthritis