Still riding to help find a cure for juvenile arthritis | Letter

Another young person has been diagnosed with an “old person’s disease.” Just the other day, a fellow parishioner stopped to visit with me after church services. She said that she had read about me in the local paper and how I often said that “kids get arthritis too.” She went on to say how she never thought anything like that would happen to any child she knew, much less someone in her family.

“Yet,” she said, “I just learned that my 12-year-old granddaughter was recently diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.”

This woman was at a loss, she clearly didn’t know what to expect or which way to turn. She was searching for answers. How could her 12-year-old granddaughter be fine one day and then the next day not even be able to walk because of the severe pain she was experiencing?

I really wanted to tell her and her family that everything would be OK, but I couldn’t. I honestly don’t know if everything will be OK. With more than 300,000 children diagnosed with a form of arthritis, how could anyone say everything is going to be OK?

Through the articles I write and the Peoples Coast Arthritis Bike Classic that I participate in, I am continuing to try to raise awareness of this horrible disease. In addition, I also try to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation. Most of the funds raised go to research, but some go to Kids Kamps, a camp where kids with arthritis can participate in events and come to grips with the fact that other kids have arthritis too. They learn they are not alone facing this disease. They learn they have their own support pier group – kids just like themselves.

This year, I am continuing to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation through my team Amber-Brooke.

We will be cycling the Oregon coast in September, raising awareness and funds through the Peoples Coast Classic. You can support us with a donation at

This is the fourth year I’ve participated in this amazing bike ride. I’ve been asked if I get tired of fundraising for this event and I simply say that when I see and hear of these kids who’ve been diagnosed with JA, I am ready to get a cardboard sign and stand at the street corners of Seattle if that is what it takes to raise funds. A cure must be found!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this horrible disease won’t happen to anyone you know. Until a cure is found, it will strike again.

Al Knopik