One word to describe 2-and-a-half year-old Georgia Rae is brave. She was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at 18 months. She has suffered from pain most of her life even though her parents were unaware of just how much until she could start vocalizing. As she grew, her developmental milestones were plagued with limitations and setbacks. She struggled with crawling, walking, sleeping, eating and playing as was forced to watch her older brothers do things that she just was not capable of. She would cry when getting dressed, getting a diaper change, putting on shoes and the mornings were especially difficult as she wouldn’t be able to walk, and would either crawl in pain or ask to be held. The only way she could sleep at night would be in the chair with her mom, not because it was comfortable for her, but because she found comfort in being held. About the only developmental milestone she has not had a problem with is speaking, and is quick to tell you all about her favorite toys, make believe phone conversations with family members and, of course, when she is in pain.
Georgia Rae was found to have arthritis in over 12 joints on her body and contractures in her left knee and right elbow so severe that she could not straighten them.
According to her mom Denise Grubbs, “With the help of a treatment team, we now have her on a new regimen of weekly biologic injections with physical therapy and she is doing much better, but is always ready to tell us when she is having a flare-up in her unique, child-like way.”
Georgia Rae inspires those daily with her love for life and ability to smile through the daily pain that she endures. There is no cure for the approximately 300,000 children suffering from Juvenile Arthritis in the U.S.
Georgia Rae’s family and friends have joined together with the Arthritis Foundation to raise awareness and support for all those individuals and families suffering from some type of this debilitating illness.
“We are so honored that Georgia Rae has been chosen to represent all the kids in our community as the Tampa Walk to Cure Arthritis child honoree,” said Grubbs. Their team ‘Rae’s of Hope’ will be hosting a family night spirit nights at Fred’s Southern Kitchen in Plant City on Friday, April 10 from 5-9 p.m. To join the team or donate, visit walktocurearthritis.tampa.kintera.org/denisegrubbs.
You can cheer on Georgia Rae and the other children and adults affected by arthritis on Saturday, May 2, at Al Lopez Park in Tampa. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the walk is at 9 a.m. For more information, visit walktocurearthritis.tampa.kintera.org.
Caption: Georgia Rae has been chosen as the Tampa walk to Cure Arthritis child honoree.