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Marching towards a cure for juvenile arthritis

4-year-old Kenley Huss was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at 16 months and has been living with the disease ever since. She and Team Kenley recently particiipated in the Juvenile Arthritis March.

Kenley Huss has never known anything but life with juvenile arthritis. The Rosemount resident was diagnosed at 16 months. For most of her four years on this planet, she has been treated for the condition.

Despite it all, her mom, Dongi Huss, said Kenley is your typical 4-year-old girl. She loves spending time with her grandparents, enjoys gymnastics and is looking forward to kindergarten at Red Pine Elementary School next year.

“She’s excited about school,” said Dongi.

Kenley’s diagnosis

Kenley was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile arthritis as a toddler. At the time, Dongi said, they noticed Kenley was having trouble walking and would fall down a lot. They mentioned it to the doctor and Kenley underwent some testing.

Before Kenley’s diagnosis, Dongi had never heard of juvenile arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe a family of autoimmune disorder and inflammatory conditions that develop in children 16 and under, according to the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation webpage.

Kenley’s specific condition causes inflammation in her joints. She’s had flare ups that have affected more than four joints at one time.

Kenley receives ongoing treatment through Gillette Children’s Hospital. The family has worked with doctors to come up with a treatment plan to put Kenley in remission. Currently Kenley takes medication for her condition. To monitor her condition, she has doctor’s visits every three months.

Dongi said her particular condition greatly increases the risk for an ocular condition, so Kenley is regularly evaluated for that as well.

Presently there is no known cure and the best that can happen is that the condition will go into remission.

According to the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation no cause has been pinpointed for most forms of juvenile arthritis.

Currently Kenley is in a good place. She has not had an arthritic flare up in a year.

Getting involved

Ever hopeful that a cure might be found someday, the Huss family has gotten involved with the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation. This weekend, Kenley’s Krew, a group of her family and friends, walked in the Juvenile Arthritis March at the Mall of America. More than 50 people joined Kenley’s Krew for the annual fundraiser.

The team raised more than $5,000. Kenley’s Krew was one of the top fund raisers this year. Dongi said this is the second year the group has walked and raised money for the foundation.

“I want people to know how grateful we are for the support,” said Dongi.

Kenley wasn’t the only Rosemount representative at the march. This year Jarrett Michie, a Rosemount Middle School student, served as the honorary chair for the event.

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'
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