Published May 21. 2012 4:00AM Updated May 23. 2012 11:17AM
At 13, Annie Samson is already a veteran of two Arthritis Advocacy Summits in Washington, D.C. The Branford youth is one of the many children in this nation suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) who traveled with family to personally express the need for help by visiting members of U.S. Congress.
Diagnosed with JRA at five, Annie's currently benefiting from regular infusions of a medication that works for her, said her mom, Mary Samson. Others, such as 2012 Southern Connecticut Arthritis Walk Ambassador Megan Miller, haven't been as lucky. Miller and her husband met up with the Samson family during this year's summit in April. The group went on to speak with U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro about their cause.
"Unfortunately, Megan was born and diagnosed with arthritis years before the relatively new biologics [medications] were on the scene. She has had 10 joint replacement surgeries, and informed me she was told she needs another," said Mary Samson.
Annie Samson is able to participate in more activities with less pain due to her current course of medication, but "a major downfall to these medications is their expense," explained her mom.
Advocacy priorities this year included access to care (improving access to medications and providing loan repayment incentives for pediatric rheumatologists), research including post-traumatic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis at Congressionally Directed Medical Research at the Department of Defense, and increasing research funding at the National Institute of Health.
The Samsons will reunite with the Millers at the 2012 Southern Connecticut Arthritis Walk, which takes place Sunday, June 3 at East Haven High School. Annie Samson has gathered a team of friends, "Annie's Angels," to participate in the walk. Donations to her team can be made online at www.southernctarthritiswalk.org/
On her fundraising page, Annie Samson wrote, "I have arthritis in many of my joints. I try to fight through the pain, but it hurts. I would love for you to join my team to try and raise $1,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, so maybe one day there will be a cure. This is my wish."
For more information on the 2012 Southern Connecticut Arthritis Walk, contact Luellen Perkins at email@example.com or 860-563-1177.