Arthritis runs in my family. I’ve watched women on both sides of my family struggle with this disease, from my great-aunt who was bent double by it to my mom who no longer runs marathons. I try to appreciate my sound limbs, knowing the chances are that someday, I’ll face this pain too. I can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with juvenile arthritis, as Cassie Porte does.
Cassie is ten years old and was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis just before her second birthday. Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure, but Cassie doesn’t let that get her down. Together with her family and friends, she’s running in the Scotiabank Vancouver 5K race this weekend.
It was Cassie’s dad who started the family tradition of running in the Vancouver race. David first raced in 2007 after finding out about the Vancouver 5K on a random internet search. He thought maybe he could raise a thousand dollars; instead, family and friends pledged $18,000. He was the only one running for Juvenile Arthritis that year. By the end of the race, the idea for the Cassie and Friends Society was born.
Now, Cassie and her mom race with David, as well as Cassie’s doctor, Lori Tucker. The Cassie and Friends Society raises money to find a cure for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In their first three years, they raised nearly $300,000 for the Ross Petty Chair for research into Juvenile Arthritis and Rheumatology.
David describes having a daughter with a chronic disease as “terrifying, disheartening and inspiring.” His story of diagnosing Cassie’s illness made me, as a mom, want to cry. Juvenile Arthritis affects 3 in 1000 children and is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. The Porte family has faced a great deal of unknowns about Cassie’s disease—whether it would go away or get worse and what would happen next.
Cassie now does gymnastics and ballet. She rides her bike and goes skiing. And she runs in 5K races with her family. As her dad says, she’s truly an inspiration.
This year, Cassie’s family is raising the money through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. This challenge is the largest fundraising opportunity for Cassie and Friends and a huge reason why they have raised over $1 million dollars. To find out how to donate, drop by the Scotiabank Charity Challenge website and scroll down to Cassie and Friends (listed under the 2016 Official Charities).
For more about Cassie, as well as other kids who face similar illnesses, visit the Cassie and Friends website. You can also register to join Team Cassie & Friends in the Vancouver 5K.