Jessica Mitchum, of Liberty, said her 4-year-old son Parker was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis just after his third birthday, a disease she says she didn’t even know existed. While at the beach with his family, Parker became sick, breaking out in a high fever, a bad rash and swollen knees that kept him from walking. The family vacation ended early as Parker’s family visited doctor after doctor to find the cause of the problem.
After visiting the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, Parker was diagnosed, but as of his most recent visit in August, he was officially in medicated remission. This means as long as Parker takes his daily shots, he will continue to be able to act as every 4-year-old boy does, Mitchum said.
On Saturday, a group of friends and family waited tables at Pizza Inn to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. All tips and donations went to the foundation. The group raised over $1,000 for the foundation.
A walk for juvenile arthritis will be held on Sept. 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Greenville ICAR campus. Parker’s team name – Parker’s Pride, wearing orange and purple shirts covered with tiger paws thanks to Parker’s love for Clemson. Many sponsors from all over the Upstate donated to help with the price of the shirts, Mitchum said.
“Our biggest issue is to raise awareness of the disease,” Mitchum said. “When Parker first got sick, I didn’t even know children could get arthritis. It can be devastating to a family, but a lot of children in this area are affected by the disease.”
Mitchum said one of the hardest aspects of the disease on a family with a child who has it is the traveling.
“There are very few pediatric arthritis doctors around,” Mitchum said. “It’s difficult to find them, so we had to go to Charleston to begin with. Our doctor in Charleston also has an office in Columbia, so we are lucky we don’t have to travel too far. Some of the money raised for the foundation is to try to get doctors into the field, so patients won’t have to drive so far to get treated.”
Mitchum said the foundation has helped towards new advancements in the drugs used to help the disease and the disease itself.
“There are tons of advancements in his drugs now, whereas 10 years ago, he’d almost be crippled. We are hoping that one day he will be able to just take a pill instead of taking a shot everyday. All the money raised goes towards those advancements.”
Mitchum said she wants to thank all of the friends, family and sponsors who have donated to the foundation. Anyone looking to donate should visit www.2010upstatearthritiswalk.kintera.org.