Arthritis fundraiser takes a new route

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Jingle Bell Walk/Run will include even more fun activities than the Arthritis Walk.

Chilton County locals who are passionate about fighting the pain of arthritis have supported the Arthritis Walk for several years, but in December 2011 they will try something new.

The Chilton County Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is set for Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at Clanton City Park’s track and football field. The event will include a 5K run, a 1-mile fun run/walk, and a Santa Chase for kids. A goal of $35,000 has been set to support the Arthritis Foundation’s Alabama Chapter.

A kickoff for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk is planned for Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Alabama Power Conference Center at noon.

The most significant change in the event is the addition of the 5K run, whereas the Arthritis Walk was simply a walk. Sponsor chairwoman Dian Easterling hopes this will cause an increase in participation.

“They tell me they make a lot of money in other places doing this run/walk, and we’re going to do our best to make it a success,” Easterling said.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 1.1 million adults and 5,000 children in Alabama have arthritis. The disease affects people of all ages, gender and race, as well as their caregivers.

Many who are involved with the fundraiser know all too well the impact arthritis has on a life. Easterling was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in her early 40s. She turned 70 in April and is still walking; this she attributes partly to the advances in medicine through research made possible by events like the Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

“Without research and without money, none of this is going to happen. And medication’s very expensive, and a lot of people can’t get medication,” she said.

Researchers and medical facilities in Alabama have received $5,014,000 in funding through the Arthritis Foundation since the year 2000. Also, beginning in 2005, the Alabama Chapter raised more than $1 million toward the Arthritis Foundation, Alabama Chapter Endowed Chair in Pediatric Rheumatology.

Now there are three specialists providing care to children with arthritis in the state. These efforts continue.

Easterling admitted that at the time of her diagnosis, she had never thought about the fact children struggle with the disease.

“It’s very detrimental to children,” she said. “I hate to see children have it.”

Those who wish to help ease the pain of arthritis sufferers can either form a team or sign up individually to participate in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. Entry fees are $20 for the 5K and/or the 1-mile run run/walk; $15 for the Santa Chase (kids 12 and under); or $20 to “sleep in” (those who cannot attend but would still like a shirt).

Anyone can register online at Day-of registration will begin one hour prior to the event. For more information, call Development and Services Coordinator Anna Blanche Young at 205-979-5700 or e-mail

There are also sponsorship opportunities. Levels are as follows: Snowflake ($250), Stocking ($500), Elf ($750), Rudolph ($1,000) and Santa ($2,500). For more details, see the above contact information.

“It’s new to all of us,” Easterling said. “I hope everyone will come out and see how fun this is. We really need sponsors.”