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Jingle Bell Run to benefit arthritis foundation

Jingle Bell Run is a festive race that helps champion arthritis research and brings people from all walks of life together to raise funds to help cure arthritis.

More than 50 million Americans, including 300,000 children live with arthritis but this weekend more than 2,000 people in Columbus will be jingling their way to a cure.

“I was having restricted movement in my neck and a lot of my joints,” said Joanna Helon who is the National Adult Honoree for the Jingle Bell Run.

At 7-years-old, Helon started to notice that something wasn't right. A year and half later, she was diagnosed with arthritis.

“I lost the ability to tie my shoes and sit on the floor and some of those restrictions I still have today,” said Helon.

She decided to turn what many see as a disability into new abilities.

“People use that mantra of 'You can do anything no matter what.' But with arthritis, sometimes you have to say I can't do that so I'm going to try something new or I'm going to try something different,” said Helon.

Twenty-one years ago, she decided to take part in the Jingle Bell Run and has participated ever since.

“Especially for people with arthritis, when we are told kind of day-to-day what we can't do, the Jingle Bell Run is something that we can do. It's a really hopeful race,” said Helon.

She has eight teams across the country and has raised close to $38,000 just this year. In Ohio alone, about 2.7 million people suffer from the effects of arthritis, including 8,000 children.

“People don't typically think about children getting arthritis. They think of it as more of an old person's disease,” said The Executive Director of the Arthritis Foundation of Central Ohio, Susan Davis.

The annual Jingle Bell Run is a family affair.

“We have the mascots and the kids and Santa all line up together and they dash down to the finish line as a way to just start the festivities of the event,” said Helon.

Every runner has shoes adorned with bells. For those who can't come out, you can jingle in your jammies.

“They pay a fee as a fundraising fee and they can just sit at home and do some fundraising there and help us in that way,” said Helon.

You can still register for the Jungle Bell Run at FrontRunner on Lane Avenue through Friday, online until noon on Friday at www.JBR.org and even at the event December 3 at Genoa Park starting at 8 a.m. The race starts at 10 a.m.