Local boy turns arthritis journey into cause to help others


COLUMBUS – The annual Walk to Cure Arthritis is coming up this weekend on Saturday, May 16, but this year, the event will look a little different.

It’s being held virtually, with individuals walking and raising money on their own through online fundraisers.

10TV talked with one of the 2020 Youth Athlete Honorees who made it clear that virtual or not, the event is all about raising awareness for a disease that often goes overlooked in children.

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“I feel amazing,” said Jamie Bright. “Like I can do just about everything I could before.”

But there was a time a when the 13-year-old Tri Valley Middle Schooler didn’t feel like himself.

“It was very frustrating,” Bright said. “I mean, people at school would ask me what was wrong with me when I was walking funny and I couldn’t tell them why. It was terrible.”

The symptoms began with knee pain, before spreading to the point that Bright couldn’t play hockey anymore.

“It eventually got so bad he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t open a tube of toothpaste, he couldn’t do things that are just simple things and eventually it just got to the point, he couldn’t climb the steps on the bus or you know, function to be able to go to school,” said Patty Bright, Jamie’s mother.

Finally, Jamie was sent to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Jamie began heavy steroids, Methotrexate injections and bi-weekly Humira injections, suppressing his immune system, Patty explained.

“They admitted him and got him back to normal in like a week,” she said.

And that’s when the Bright's found the Arthritis Foundation.

“We’ve benefited immensely from the Arthritis Foundation. In the beginning, they provided us an abundance of support,” Patty said. “Mainly in the form of just educating us because we didn’t know that children could get arthritis and what we have found out is that most people don’t know that.

In fact, 54 million Americans suffer from Arthritis, with nearly 300,000 of them children, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

But with support from the Arthritis Foundation and treatment from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, kids like Jamie are able to get back to doing the things they love, like playing hockey.

“I started playing goalie this season, which is even tougher on your joints and I’m loving it and I don’t have any problems really.”

Their community also stepped up to support Jamie, Patty explained, saying his team, coaches and the Newark Ice Hockey Association have been active in his arthritis journey.

Now Jamie speaks as an advocate, using his role as a 2020 Youth Athlete Honoree for the Walk to Cure Arthritis to raise money and awareness so more people can benefit from the treatment that saved him.

“The Walk to Cure Arthritis is important to us and last year we participated as something that could give Jamie a feeling that he could make a difference; that he doesn’t just have to have arthritis and there’s something he can do about it and contribute,” Patty said.

To read more about Jamie’s story and how to help his cause, click here.