2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis Honorees

Emily Smith
Adult Honoree

Emily Smith was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 24. When the doctor first told her, she had no idea what RA was. Through the years, her RA has moved from her hands, to her elbows, knees and ankles. Performing everyday tasks, like walking and getting dressed, was difficult and caused her to be in excruciating pain. Emily is an active person and not being able to go places with friends and family was hard for her. At one point she was ready to give up. Thankfully, she was able to find a Rheumatologist to find a medicine regime that worked for her and has brought her some relief! She has had setbacks here and there but that does not break her spirit.

Emily is a Champion and is supported by God, her family, friends, doctor and the Arthritis Foundation! Emily is on a mission to fight arthritis by raising money for the Walk to Cure Arthritis! We hope you will join her and others who are living with arthritis on May 11!

Estelle LeBouf
Polyarticular JIA
Youth Honoree

Estelle has always been “on the go.” Her grandparents took her to gymnastics meets and she loved them. At 4, she begged to take gymnastics lessons, and she has loved gymnastics ever since.

At 9, Estelle was a level 7 optional gymnast. Mid-season, her right foot became swollen and both feet and hands were often sore. Estelle saw a pediatric orthopedist, and he took X-rays but found no fractures. Estelle was hurting, but she worked hard and made the level 7 state regional team. Over the summer of 2017, Estelle’s right foot became more swollen. The pediatric orthopedist ran an MRI, and her midfoot was full of synovial fluid. He advised us to immobilize the foot in a boot, but the more she stayed off her foot, the more the foot continued to swell. Estelle saw a foot specialist for a second opinion who casted her foot for 12 weeks. After her foot came out of the cast, it remained swollen, and she had lost full range of motion. She could barely walk on the foot and her muscles had atrophied. Estelle did three months of physical therapy with no improvement. Finally, Estelle’s pediatrician ordered labs and called to say that Estelle’s rheumatoid factor was five times above the normal limit.

Estelle waited several months for an appointment with the pediatric rheumatologist. When she finally got in to see him, he diagnosed her with polyarticular JIA. She started oral methotrexate and naproxen, but she began experiencing more swelling in her hands. Estelle saw another rheumatologist in Baton Rouge and he ordered labs, MRIs and bone scans. He determined that she had active arthritis in over 15 joints. Estelle began methotrexate and Humira injections.

Estelle was discouraged and almost quit gymnastics. She met an AF advocate through Flipfest camp and decided to continue her favorite sport. In August 2018, her medications began to work, and she began making progress with range of motion in her foot. Her coaches were encouraging and she was able to start competing in all 4 events for level 8 in January 2019. At her first level 8 meet in Tennessee, she tied for first place out of all age groups on the bars, and she continues to get better each day. Estelle is very honored to be the youth honoree for the Walk to Cure Arthritis Baton Rouge. She hopes she can inspire kids with arthritis to stay very active and not give up on their dreams!

Dr. Hess
Corporate Chair

Dr. Hess performs periacetabular osteotomies, a surgery that reorients a dysplastic (I.e., shallow) hip socket to improve coverage, minimize pain, and delay or even entirely prevent need for a hip replacement. 

For those patients with end-stage arthritis, Dr. Hess, performs his minimally invasive hip replacements through the direct anterior approach, meaning the joint is accessed from the front.  This approach spares muscles, in contrast to conventional posterior hip approaches, that require dividing muscle groups to access the joint.  This approach may lead to smaller incisions, less muscle disruption, and a faster recovery.

In addition to his private surgical practice, Dr. Hess works closely with Our Lady of the Lake Hospital as an orthopedic trauma director. Referencing his fellowship at the University of Maryland’s prestigious R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, the first and only integrated Trauma Hospital in the United States, Dr. Hess steers the hospitals trauma protocols and procedures.

Recently, Dr. Hess was honored to take on the role of chairman for the Louisiana Arthritis Foundation.


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