Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at 6, Staples sixth-grader sells eggs to raise money for cure
WRITTEN BY NICOLE STRACEK | PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIM AND JJ LARSON
ARTHRITIS NOT ONLY AFFECTS ADULTS, BUT CHILDREN, TOO. Over 300,000 children under 18 in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of juvenile arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Limping, stiff joints, fevers, skin rashes, pain and swelling are among the most common symptoms that children can experience with juvenile arthritis.
When Seth Larson was six years old, he developed a severely swollen knee. It was so swollen and painful that his parents, Tim and JJ Larson, knew there was more going on than an injury. When his symptoms didn’t improve, they began working with doctors to figure out what could be wrong.
“At first the doctors thought it was Lyme disease, and then just a twisted knee,” explains JJ. But as time went on, Seth’s symptoms grew worse. He struggled with pain and swelling, making it difficult to do even the easiest tasks. Routine undertakings such as brushing his teeth or getting dressed for school became a major struggle because the pain and swelling in his joints made it nearly impossible to move. Months later, after numerous tests, x-rays, medications, and physician visits, Seth was finally diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (idiopathic means “from unknown causes”). Seth was diagnosed with arthritis in his knee, two toes, two fingers, one ankle, and in his wrist.
Growing up with arthritis can be challenging. However, with the right care and treatment, many children can lead full and active lifestyles. For Seth, now 11 and a sixth-grader at Motley-Staples Middle School, his juvenile arthritis is in remission for the second time. Many children who suffer from juvenile arthritis will have good days and bad. Flare-ups are common, often making day-to-day activities extremely challenging.
“Some days I felt really good. But other days it was hard to get out of bed,” says Seth.
Aside from his symptoms, JJ and Tim say that one of the biggest struggles with Seth’s JA was finding the right treatment. After months of injections, pills, and therapeutic options, they were finally able to make their way to a medication that worked for Seth.
For parents who have children diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, JJ says, “One of the biggest things parents can do for their children is to listen to them. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, keep
working toward a better solution.” She also says that reaching out for support to other families with children who suffer from JA has been a great help.
“Just knowing that other families have gone through what we have with Seth, it was a great way to gain support,” JJ explains.
One of the biggest outlets the Larson family turns to for support is the Arthritis Foundation and its annual Walk to Cure Arthritis. This nationwide event unites communities across the country to help raise awareness about juvenile arthritis. Seth was chosen to become the 2017 Youth Honoree for the Northern Lakes Walk to Cure Arthritis. Part of his goal, as an honoree, is to raise at least $2,000 for juvenile arthritis research.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
TO DONATE or join Seth’s Soldiers to help find a cure for juvenile arthritis, visit www.walktocurearthritis.org/northernlakes/sethssoldiers.
TO PURCHASE farm fresh eggs from the Larson family, call JJ and Tim Larson at 218.831.1870 or 218.513.9969. Eggs are $3/dozen or $4 for 18 eggs. All donations will help support arthritis research and the Larson’s Walk to Cure Arthritis team, Seth’s Soldiers.
TO PARTICIPATE in the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis May 20 at the Paul Bunyan Trailhead in Baxter, contact Brekka Nessler at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651.229.5368