Arthritis awareness a group effort

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

John Sweeney of the Arthritis Foundation, left, accepts a $500 check from Britt Culpepper of the Clanton Lions Club.

Local groups have been learning about and contributing to the crusade against arthritis, an increasingly rampant condition that affects people of all ages.

Barry Baker of Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness, John Sweeney of the Arthritis Foundation, Anna Blanche Young of the Arthritis Foundation and Cornerstone member Maude Moore are several spokespeople for the cause who have been rallying support for arthritis research and Clanton’s second annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in December by speaking to different groups in the community.

The Clanton Lions Club heard from Baker, Sweeney and Moore at a meeting Nov. 16.

Baker spoke of his business’ involvement in the fight against arthritis and in local fundraisers for the illness, namely the Jingle Bell Run, which is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15.

“We’re very, very interested in arthritis, obviously, and how to help raise funds to beat arthritis,” Baker said.

Sweeney, the Arthritis Foundation’s regional development and services director of Central Alabama, provided statistics for cases of arthritis in the state.

According to Sweeney, 1.5 million Alabamians suffer from arthritis diagnosed by a medical doctor.

“We have more than 5,000 children diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney painted a somber picture when he said juvenile arthritis cases can result in children 8 or 9 years old undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery.

“It is so aggressive and so mean that if it’s not caught early enough,” Sweeney said, “Irreversible damage is done.”

Sweeney said a large portion of the money collected for arthritis research is coming right back to facilities like UAB Hospital.

“It’s prevalent in everyone’s life,” he said. “(We are) fighting for a cure.”

Moore, a Clanton resident and an osteoarthritis patient, has been an active member of Cornerstone for 10 years and utilizes the facility’s fitness classes to cope with her condition.

“She has made it a point in her life to fight arthritis without medication,” Sweeney said.

Moore said her main method of staving off the debilitating effects of arthritis is staying active even when it would be easier not to move at all.

“You can’t sit around,” Moore said. “You must do something. At 87 years old, I thank God that I can walk around.”

Moore even bought herself swimming lessons for her birthday one year, partly because swimming is recommended for arthritis patients, and partly because she had always wanted to learn how to swim.

“I tell people, ‘You don’t have to die with arthritis; you can live with it,’” she said. “Don’t sit down and do nothing. It may take me all day long to do it, but I’m going to do it.”

The Lions Club presented Sweeney with a $500 check to the Arthritis Foundation.

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk will take Dec. 15 at 8 a.m. at the Clanton youth football field.

For more information about the event, contact Anna Blanche Young at (205) 979-5700, e-mail or visit

For more information about the Arthritis Foundation, visit