2018 Jingle Bell Run Honorees


Daniel Schmidt
Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Junior Honoree 

Daniel Schmidt is a 15-year-old from Prattville, Alabama. He attends Prattville High School and is a member of the school’s award-winning Pride of Prattville marching band where he plays in the percussion section. He and his family participated in their first Jingle Bell Run in 2010. His dad along with a few of his co-workers completed the run dressed as a 7-foot Christmas tree, presents and reindeer.

In the summer of 2013, Daniel started experiencing pain in his feet and legs. His walking resembled that of an elderly man. Six months and three doctor's visits later, he was referred to a pediatric rheumatologist who began evaluating him for juvenile arthritis. It took two months and some additional tests but in May 2014 it was confirmed that Daniel had polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Polyarticular JIA causes inflammation in five or more joints, often the small joints of the fingers and hands, but weight-bearing joints and the jaw can also be affected. Polyarticular JIA can be rheumatoid factor-positive or negative. Rheumatoid factor-positive polyarticular JIA closely resembles adult rheumatoid arthritis and can be a more severe disease than the RF-negative variation. About 25 percent of children with JIA will have the polyarticular form (www.arthritis.org). Daniel was initially prescribed Enbrel injections twice weekly and has done well with the medication and dosage. Just this past year, he was able to decrease the dosages to one injection per week with continued, positive results. His physician believes he is currently in remission and anticipates an eventual, medicine-free future for Daniel.

The Schmidt family has participated in eight Jingle Bell Runs in Montgomery and is extremely thankful for the Arthritis Foundation and their endless efforts to find a cure. It is heart-breaking to realize so many children also struggle with arthritis, but enriching to know there’s a national program and loving community providing the help and support to overcome it.

Kyree Jackson
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

Kyree Jackson is 7 years old and lives in Phenix City, Alabama.  When Kyrie was an infant, his suffering began around 4 months of age, with a swollen elbow, unexplained rashes and fevers that would not leave even after administering fever reducers.  He would not extend his legs and would cry and scream with a high pitch as if he was in very serious pain.  At 2 years old, his Pediatrician diagnosed him with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.  Kyree suffers from constant pain and stiffness in his joints and bones which doesn’t allow him to be as active as he would like. 

He must wear Afo’s on his legs and has a leg length discrepancy.  Kyree is a homeschooled student, which allows him to avoid many communicable diseases, extended exposure to sunlight (which can make him very sick) and to get plenty of rest throughout the day.  If he overdoes it on any activity, it may cause a major set-back for him. 

Thankfully, he has his nana to take good care of him and make sure he eats a healthy diet and avoids trigger foods such as chemically-based food dyes and meats, dairy and any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup.

When asked, “What do you think is most important for people to understand about arthritis?”, Kyree responded:

“Arthritis doesn’t discriminate, it affects people of all ages.  There are many types of arthritis and it doesn’t just cause aches and pains.  There are many foods I cannot eat, nights where my family and I cannot sleep and many things that I have to say no to, but other kids can say yes.”

Arthritis has affected Kyree’s vision, caused him to suffer from Periodic Fever Syndrome, and GI issues.  Having JIA has affected not only Kyree but the livelihood of his family as well.  They are participating in this year’s Jingle Bell Run to bring awareness and to let people see that there are real people suffering from these diseases.


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