Robert C. Garrett
co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health
Corporate Chair

Robert C. Garrett is the co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, the largest and most comprehensive health network in New Jersey.

Mr. Garrett began his time with Hackensack University Medical Center in 1981 and served as president and CEO of the Hackensack University Health Network from November 2009 through July 2016. Mr. Garrett dramatically expanded the network through a series of acquisitions, partnerships and affiliations. In July 2016, the network merged with Meridian Health creating one of the largest health care networks in New Jersey.

Hackensack University Medical Center, the flagship hospital, has received some of the most prestigious designations and distinctions from the nation’s leading health care rating companies and was recognized by U.S. News & World Report in 2017 as New Jersey's best hospital - for the sixth consecutive year - and the fourth best among New York's finest.

Hackensack Meridian Health has partnered with Seton Hall University and this year will open New Jersey's only private medical school, a four-year program which will revolutionize physician training. The curriculum will emphasize collaboration and a holistic approach to care incorporating all spheres of a patient's life with the strongest possible clinical training and state-of-the-art technology.

Mr. Garrett’s leadership and strategic vision have garnered much professional praise. He was ranked #1 in the NJBIZ 2017 “Power 50 Health Care” list. He was also ranked on the 2017 “NJBIZ Power 100: The most powerful people in New Jersey business” list for six consecutive years. He was listed as one of the 2016“ 135 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know,” and is also one of the “2014 500+ People to Know in Healthcare” according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

Mr. Garrett is honored to serve as the 2018 Walk to Cure Arthritis New Jersey Corporate Chair.

To support Robert C. Garrett, please visit his teams fundraising page today! 

Amanda Hermann
Systemic and Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Teen Honoree

Amanda Hermann, now age 18, was diagnosed with Systemic and Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis September, 2015 at the age of 16, after close to 2 years of disabling systemic symptoms and a prolonged search for a diagnosis. As a High School student, she was in and out of the hospital, evaluated by many of the best specialists and underwent invasive tests and even laparoscopic exploratory surgery, before she finally “presented” with joint symptoms and thus, the diagnosis of Systemic and Polyarticular JIA. Over the last 2 ½ years, she has gone from wheelchair to walking, proving her strength in both body and spirit. She has graduated from daily biologic injections, to every 2 week IV infusions, to now every 2 week injections.

Amanda’s life as a High school teenager had become a new life, that of daily challenges, life lessons about disappointments but also courage and strength and finding new interests that she could excel in. She pursued her love of singing. She tried out for America’s Got Talent as a Senior in High School. She is even writing a book that is soon to be published.

Despite daily pain, frequent doctor’s visits, self injections, missed classes, and limited mobility during flares, she graduated High School last year. She has successfully completed her first semester as a Freshman in the Honors Program at Quinnipiac University, as a Biomedical Sciences major in the Pre-medical tract. Amanda plans to continue paying forward by pursuing a career as a Pediatric Rheumatologist. Amanda is the founder and team captain of "Amanda's Army". Last year, during their first walk ever, her team raised over $11,000. Amanda’s achievements have a way of inspiring all kids with JIA, especially those who have had to overcome similar challenges at such a late age.

To support Amanda, please visit her fundraising page today! 

Andrew Curtis
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Champion of Yes Honoree

Andrew Curtis was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis now called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) when he was two years old. Now a senior in High School he doesn’t remember what life was like before JIA.

Early in his diagnosis his parents discovered the Arthritis Foundation. They attended a parent support group where they learned the many resources available to families including Camp CHAT, where Andrew has attended since he was eight years old and will be a peer group leader this summer. Andrew says, “it will allow me the opportunity to give back and help younger children understand that they are a JA warrior!”

Andrew under the care of Dr. Kimura, Dr. Weiss, Doreen Tabussi and the amazing members of the Hackensack team has been fortunate to be able to participant in a clinical study for the past four years and is doing well because of the medication.

Today, he is a strong, healthy teenager who is a member of the Burke Catholic high school varsity football, swimming and golf teams. He plays the euphonium in his high school band, and does community service for his church and other local organizations. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, skiing and woodworking. As you can see Andrew enjoys life to its fullest. He says, “Arthritis is only one part of who I am!”

Andrew is excited to announce that he has been accepted into several Pharmacy programs where he plans to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He wants to be part of a team that finds the next cutting-edge medication or even discover the cure for JIA as today there is NO cure.

Andrew and his family have participated in the Arthritis Foundations Walk to Cure Arthritis since Andrew was four years old and has raised substantial dollars for research.

As an Arthritis Advocate, Andrew speaks out on behalf of all people who struggle with arthritis and is honored to be nominated as the first Champion of Yes honoree, and thanks everyone who has supported him through his journey with JIA.

To support Andrew, please visit his fundraising page today! 

Isabella Masullo
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

Isabella is a 7-year-old loving, caring and social young girl who was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) at the age of 3. Up until the diagnosis, Bella had been healthy and happy. Her father and I found it strange walking with her because she would always beg to be held. I didn’t make much of it then and honestly remember telling my husband that I thought she should play outside more often to build up stamina. Little did I know at the time what was brewing in my baby’s body. In December of 2013, I noticed Bella’s knee was swollen. She complained about it in the mornings and then seemed to forget about it. As a three year old, Bella jumped off of anything, so I thought maybe she jumped the wrong way. After a few mornings, it didn’t look any better and in less than a week Bella wouldn’t even put any weight on it and started limping during the day.

I took her to the pediatrician thinking she would have an x-ray. I was caught off guard when he wanted blood work. We left the pediatrician and went straight to a pediatric orthopedic. He diagnosed her with Lyme, sent me home with a brace and said if she gets worse to give him a call in a couple of weeks. I gave it a week before I couldn’t take it anymore. Bella was in even more pain. It was then we were referred to a rheumatologist and she was diagnosed with JIA.

In those next few months, our family struggled. My husband and I were devastated to watch our fun-loving baby regress, refusing to run and crying over the smallest of things. Watching her in pain was the most challenging thing I have done in my life so far. Every night I would plead with God to give the pain to me and spare Bella. I took my grief and poured it into getting Bella in the best shape possible. I took her to physical therapy, followed doctor’s orders and made sure she ate well and got the proper rest. And now I am happy to report that with her medication she is living a normal life. You would never know she had JIA unless I told you. She went from holding onto dance teachers in class to help support her knees to participating on the competition team. I’ve always admired her strength, bravery and positive attitude when faced with challenges from her JIA, she has never let it beat her or stop her from doing what she wants. She is truly our little warrior!

If anything having JIA has allowed her to be more understanding and empathetic to others. She understands when someone is in pain and suffering and knows how to respond. As a family we took our pain and turned to help others. I wanted Bella to understand that no matter how bad our situation may become, others have it worse and we need to pay it forward. She has become quite the philanthropist! And while we work to help others, our biggest focus has been finding a cure for arthritis! Bella has been determined to make a difference in the world no matter how young she is and her main goal is to fight for herself and others to find a cure for arthritis. "I'm so excited that the Arthritis Foundation picked me to be this year's honoree. It's really important to me to let people know kids get arthritis too" says Isabella.

To support Isabella, please visit her fundraising page today! 

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