2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis Honorees


Pooja Banerjee, M.D
Medical Honoree

Pooja Banerjee, M.D., is a consultant rheumatologist at North Texas Rheumatology, P.A. in Dallas, TX.  She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and has been practicing in Dallas since 2005.  She received her Doctor of Medicine degree in Europe from Minsk Medical Institute and graduated summa-cum-laude in 1992.  She completed her residency in internal medicine and her subspecialty fellowship training in rheumatology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2002.  She is board certified in rheumatology and is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology.

Dr. Banerjee specializes in arthritis and autoimmune disease conditions, which include novel therapies in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, and other joint diseases.  She is an exceptional educator and is deeply involved with medical students and peer-to-peer education.  She is compassionate, progressive, and up-to-date on recent advances in rheumatology.  She is a strong advocate of patients with arthritis and serves on the Leadership Board of the Arthritis Foundation in North Texas.

And believes that we are all on a journey in life growing and developing all the time, and we understand that health is not just about lack of illness, but being well in body, mind and spirit. She aspires to empower people to live life in all its fullness and remains committed to caring for each of her patients as a whole person. 


Chastity Saunders
Psoriatic Arthritis & Ankylosing Spondylitis
Adult Honoree

At 24 years old out of nowhere, Chastity could not get up from a sitting position.  She was referred to specialists and when imaging and labs were normal, she was turned away.  It would be another 7 years before her body showed outward symptoms and by this time she was on a walker. She was then referred to a Rheumatologist and mis-diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Finally, her disease was identified and correctly diagnosed as Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis after finding the right rheumatologist.  Unfortunately, she can no longer do bedside nursing as a Registered Nurse due to the physical demands.  Arthritis is "invisible" and it's hard for people to understand that a young, healthy, normal looking person can be in so much pain. She is currently doing much better with Cosentyx and is now able to do day to day things that were a major struggle before. 

"I am so grateful for the support from my family, friends, employer and co-workers at United Healthcare, and my husband's employer at Holiday Chevrolet.  Also, extremely grateful to the Arthritis Foundation for their support, kindness, and understanding and to my Rheumatologist Dr. Virginia Reddy.  Dr. Reddy has been instrumental in my treatment and really cares and listens to my concerns.  She and her nurse even came to walk with me at the 2018 Walk to Cure Arthritis, and that is an amazing feeling to have as a patient.  I strive every day to overcome the daily struggles of arthritis and I refuse to allow this disease to control my ability to be the best wife, mother, nurse, and student I can”. Chastity Saunders, R.N.

Join Chastity in the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Mason Nothaft
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Teen Honoree

On the surface, Mason is a typical active 14-year-old 9th grader with interests in science, technology, literature and history.  He is a member of his school rowing team, a member of a shooting team and a Boy Scout.  But there is one thing that sets him apart; he is one of 300,000 children in the United States living with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).  
Mason was diagnosed at the age of 10, after nearly a year of doctor visits, blood tests, X-Rays, Ultrasounds, MRIs, steroid injections, and surgery.  Like most kids with JIA, living with arthritis requires adaptation.  This meant giving up two of his favorite sports, football and baseball, to protect his joints.  Now, as a teenager, it means adapting his social life and school schedule to accommodate doctor visits, weekly injections - and their ill after-affects.  

Children suffering from an arthritis flare up, may experience too much pain and inflammation to get out of bed, to walk to the breakfast table, to hold a pencil, or to button their school clothes.  On these days going to school and carrying around a 20-lb backpack is unthinkable!

Mason is fortunate to have access to medications that are helping control his arthritis and a team of expert pediatric rheumatologists at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  But with only 350 board certified pediatric rheumatologists in the U.S., only 25% of children with juvenile arthritis are getting the care they truly need.  In addition, due to the limited choices and high cost of arthritis medications, many families simply cannot afford them or have run out of viable treatment options.  For these reasons, Mason is a Junior Ambassador with the Arthritis Foundation, where he advocates for funding to expand research and scientific discovery in the area of arthritis, and to cultivate a new generation of pediatric rheumatologists.  

“Please join me in my quest for remission!  #MissionRemission” Mason Nothaft

Join Mason in the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Kate Mayo
Juvenile Psoriatic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

Those who know Kate, know that she loves to dance.  Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical and Broadway are a few of her favorites. She loves playing with friends and teaching her little sister how to ride her tricycle.  Kate tries to bring happiness and joy to others with lots of hugs and a positive attitude.  But, it wasn’t always this way.

It all began when her mom noticed she wasn’t running and playing like other kids, that her knees were larger than they should be and that she was struggling to bend them.  Her mother also noticed it was hard for Kate to hold crayons due to the swollen joints in her hands.  Kate was only 3 years old when she was diagnosed with Juvenile Psoriatic Arthritis.  Like those living with arthritis know all too well, there were so many doctor visits, blood tests, Ultrasounds, MRIs and not so pleasant medication… it can go on and on. 

It has been a year since her last injection, over a year since her last flare and she is feeling great.  She knows that a flare can happen again and may have to take the medicine again, but today she is grateful for the relief.  She is also thankful for the care she has received knowing that others struggle to gain access to the care they need and that many can’t afford the medications that are so expensive.  

“The first year was the hardest, not only on me but hard on my family too.  We all had to adapt to a new normal of weekly injections and daily medication.  I am thankful for the care I received from Dr. Julie Fuller and team because today I am in remission!  I ask you to PLEASE support Arthritis Foundation and donate to help kids with JIA, so they too may be able to shout I AM IN REMISSION!” Kate Mayo #katethegreat

Join Kate in the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!