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Local teams set out to raise $30K for walk

Alexis Chimento was 23 years old when her life changed in an instant.

While working as a waitress, what she describes as “an electrocuting, sharp pain” hit her right shoulder, causing her to drop a tray of food.

She went home, received a shot of steroids in her shoulder, and the pain went away quickly – only to return within about a week.

After another shot failed to relieve her pain, Chimento was directed to see a rheumatologist.

But still the questions remained.

“I couldn’t hold on to a toothbrush, I couldn’t brush my hair…I had to depend on others to button, zip and tie my clothes,” she said with tears.

“People stared at me, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I thought I was dying.”

After many tests, Chimento was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in September of 1997.

As time went on, people made her realize that she had to take control of the disease, and that she couldn’t let arthritis control her. Through support from doctors and the Arthritis Foundation, she was able to find the right medication and embark on the long road to recovery.

Chimento, now 35 of Birmingham, is a mother of two.

“I’ve now been able to turn around what was negative and make it positive,” she told a nearly packed dining room in the Helen Parrish Activity Center of Clanton First United Methodist Church yesterday.

The occasion was a promotional luncheon for the Fourth Annual Chilton County Arthritis Walk, an annual event that raises money for arthritis research through the Arthritis Foundation.

“Without these walks like this one in Chilton County and those that take place all over the world, people like Alexis wouldn’t be doing as well as they are today,” said Arthritis Walk Committee member Ann Glasscock.

This year’s Walk is Saturday, Oct. 4 at Chilton Medical Center. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., and the Walk begins at 9:30.

This year’s fundraising goal is $30,000, which tops any amount raised by local teams in the past.

For more information or to register online, please visit www.arthritiswalkclanton.kintera.org, or call Lisa Hemphill at (334) 244-1179.

– Scott Mims can be reached at scott.mims@clantonadvertiser.com