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Local teen is 2014 juvenile arthritis spokesperson

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At the age of 10, Jarrett Michie’s life was permanently altered. After suffering with severe pain in his ankles, legs and back, the Rosemount boy went to the doctor and was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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Specifically, he suffers from a condition call Spondyloarthropathy. The condition involves inflammation of the place where ligaments and muscles attach to the bones. The diagnosis explained why Jarrett, an otherwise healthy kid, was experiencing so much pain but created many more.

For Jarrett the most pressing question was if he could continue to play basketball, his favorite sport.

“I continue to play basketball because it is what I love to do and who I am, even though the pain after games and tournaments put me on the couch.  I may have arthritis, but it won’t take away my spirit,” said Jarrett.

To treat the chronic disease Jarrett takes daily pills, has weekly shots and makes monthly trips to Amplatz Children’s Hospital for infusions. His mother, Kim, said the disease strikes randomly. Jarrett’s twin brother does not have juvenile arthritis.

It’s a lot for the sixth grader to handle, but Jarrett and his family have found support through the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation. Kim said the foundation has been a huge help in coming to terms with Jarrett’s disease. The foundation provided much needed information and emotional support.

For Jarrett, the foundation has provided friends who know exactly what he’s going through. Annually, Jarrett attends Camp M.A.S.H. (Make Arthritis Stop Hurting). The camp includes fun activities and education about juvenile arthritis. Jarrett proudly displays a certificate he received from the camp for giving himself his own shot.

“It’s the one place where they can be themselves,” said Kim.

Jarrett will be the 2014 Juvenile Arthritis Honoree for the Upper Midwest Region. In the role, Jarrett will be the face of Juvenile Arthritis. Jarrett said there are more than 13,000 children in the Upper Midwest who suffer from juvenile arthritis including 5,000 in Minnesota.

Excited to raise awareness about juvenile arthritis, Jarrett said he just wants people to know that there are kids out there battling pain, inflammation and fatigue every day and refusing to let it stop them from pursuing their dreams.

“In a crazy way, I am thankful that I have been faced with the battle against juvenile arthritis. It has opened my eyes to the choices we have in life …. to take control and face things or to let them control you,” said Jarrett.

On March 1, Jarrett will share his story in the rotunda at the Mall of America, along with other children during the annual Juvenile Arthritis March. By raising awareness, Jarrett hopes to pave the way to finding a cure so that kids like him don’t have to live in pain.

Learn more at http://JAM2014.kintera.org/bdawgnation.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
(651) 460-6606
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