By Libby Hopkins
Arthritis is a painful disease that affects 50 million people each year. Kelley Kilpatrick of Brandon is one of these people. She was formally diagnosed with Rheumatory Arthritis (RA) when she was 16-years-old, but she has never let her disease hold her back. “I made the decision a long time ago that I would never let my RA stop me or define me,” Kilpatrick said. “Going from that, I push my limits a lot and I know that I push them, but I’m conscious of what my body tells me.”
Kilpatrick is a recent FSU graduate and was selected as this year’s adult honoree for the walk. She has studied abroad and was a Garnet and Gold Scholar. She has also been a timeless volunteer with volunteering more than 1,000 hours for the Arthritis Foundation and Camp Boggy Creek, the camp that works with the foundation to send children with Arthritis to camp. She is also a counselor at the camp. She hopes to one day join the staff at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, a place she spent so much time at as a teenager and where she came to know and love her doctors and nurses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “More than 294,000 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with Arthritis.”
Since Kilpatrick loved volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation, she thought it would only be fitting if she put a team together and have them participate in the foundation’s annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk. The event will be held on Saturday, December 21 at the HCC Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa. Kilpatrick’s “Team Kelley” has 27 members and they have raised $1,735 towards their goal of $2,500. The team is still trying to raise funds for its walk.
Team Kelley is confident they will make its goal, but more importantly, Kilpatrick hopes she and her team raise awareness for Arthritis. “I would like to increase the awareness of RA because I believe that knowledge is power,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s not just an old person’s disease.” To learn more about the Arthritis Foundation, visit its Website at www.arthritis.org. If you would like to make a donation to Team Kelley, visit www.jbrtampa.kintera.org or you can contact Team Kelley at 967-1457.