2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis Honorees

Ray Altmix
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Corporate Chair

Ray Altmix, a busy CEO for Southern Bank in Marion IL, never stopped to think he could be sidelined by a chronic disease. Yet something loomed odd in Ray’s daily executive duties that he just couldn’t shake. His chronic fatigue and odd radiating joint pain had moved past the point of “slightly annoying” to “rather alarming.”

In September 2014, Ray’s diagnosis was confirmed. Rheumatoid arthritis (R.A) was now his disease. He knew this was not a simple battle of aches and pains but a real fight against an incurable and progressive autoimmune disease. Ray recognized this as “the bad kind” of arthritis. The medical merry-go-round had begun. Medical protocol of the chemo drug, methotrexate was too harsh and the side effects were intolerable. Ray endured many changes in treatments.

Today Ray considers himself to be fortunate. Thanks to significant progress in drug therapies and cutting edge immune therapies, Ray is managing his R.A. Ray has joined the fight being led by the Arthritis Foundation. He chooses a positive outlook and continued research. Ray passionately serves as the Corporate Chair of this year’s Walk to Cure Arthritis in Southern Illinois and helping the fight for arthritis.

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Amit Bhandarkar, MD
Heartland Regional Medical Center
Medical Honoree

Spine surgeon Amit Bhandarkar, MD, MBBS, MS is a fellowship trained spine surgeon and his multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of spine ailments aims to better locate the source of pain and select an effective treatment regimen.

Dr. Bhandarkar specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, endoscopic spine surgery, pain management, joint fusion, carpal tunnel release, cubital tunnel release, disc replacement surgery, and many more.

He is grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of arthritis through the Walk to Cure Arthritis!

Join the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!


Aneil Patton
Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Angel Honoree

Aneil was a healthy, active 6-year-old when he started to show symptoms. He was a polite, sweet, loving, extraordinary and strong boy. Aneil loved the Lord, his family and soccer. His health started taking a turn when he contracted a common virus that was associated with high fevers, rash, stiffness and uncontrollable itching followed by extreme weakness. After several appointments, E.R. visits, tests, 2 hospital stays and conversations with numerous physicians he was finally diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) in March 2016. SJIA is one of several rheumatic diseases that affect children. It is the rarest form of JIA where the entire body is affected, not just the joints. The most common symptoms are recurrent bouts of fever with high daily temperature spikes, skin rash, enlarged internal organs and painful, stiff joints. The cause or trigger for the disease is not known and there is no cure.

Aneil went through numerous treatments including medication injection and infusions, but they were unable to control his disease. Throughout the year, Aneil was in and out of the hospital. Even though many days his body was so weak that he could barely walk, his spirit always remained strong. He could not wait to get back to soccer, school, Tae Kwon Do and visiting Disney World. However, on March 28, 2017, Aneil passed away due to a complication called macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) -- a serious complication of rheumatic disease which can lead to life threatening systemic symptoms and internal organ failure. MAS occurs in 1out of 10 patients with SJIA. Aneil has gained his wings and their family has been forever changed because of this disease. Many other families will be impacted by this serious disease. Being part of the Arthritis Foundation, the Patton family finds comfort in bringing awareness and helping advocate for those who are, have been and will be affected by this disease.

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


Brayden Dunn
Psoriatic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

Brayden Dunn is a 13-year-old determined to live life to its fullest. Brayden enjoys exploring the woods around his Carrier Mills, IL home, tinkering with backyard engineering (catapult, anyone?), and reading the best books he can find!

It became clear early in Brayden’s life that something was wrong--he often screamed and cried about pain throughout his legs and feet. By 10 years old, Brayden’s health had only worsened. His knees swelled horribly and his left leg would give out, making walking a major task. Despite numerous visits with specialists, an explanation for Brayden’s ongoing health problems remained elusive.

“It is hard to watch an illness take away from his childhood,” says his mother. “Brayden just wants to know why he can’t always play like other kids.”

A referral to a pediatric rheumatologist brought some desperately needed answers. After a series of tests last year Brayden was finally diagnosed with psoriatic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) characterized by chronic joint inflammation, eye swelling, and red, scaly rashes. JIA is the most common type of childhood arthritis, affecting 1-2 of every 1000 children, with identified cases in nearly all races and ethnicities.

The Arthritis Foundation helped Brayden and his family connect with other families that experience JIA. When Brayden was first diagnosed, the Arthritis Foundation sent him a Power Pack and the included teddy bear has been by his side since. Brayden is still working to find the best treatment plan for him, but is finally experiencing improved health--allowing him to play like other kids for a few hours each day!

Brayden is proud to be the youth honoree for the 2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis - Southern Illinois. He hopes to educate others about juvenile arthritis and raise funds to support the research necessary for finding a cure.

Join the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!


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