2019 Walk to Cure Arthritis Honorees

Srinivas Susarla, MD
Medical Honoree

Dr. Susarla is an Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, and a craniofacial surgeon at Seattle Children's Hospital. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton University. He completed his dental degree at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, a master of public health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health, and his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. His surgical residencies were in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Plastic Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. These were followed by fellowship training in Craniofacial Surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Dr. Susarla's clinical practice focuses on pediatric and adult craniomaxillofacial reconstructive surgery, including management of craniosynostosis, cleft lip and palate, dentofacial deformities, pediatric maxillofacial pathology, and primary and secondary reconstruction following facial trauma. He has over 150 publications in the medical literature and is on the editorial boards for journals in both plastic surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery. He is one of the few craniofacial surgeons in the country who is board certified in both Plastic Surgery and Oral-Maxillofacial surgery.

Join Dr. Susarla in the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Jason Huff
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Adult Honoree

In 2004, Jason Huff was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Though he had no initial symptoms, he witnessed the effects of autoimmune disease when his brother died from a rare condition. In 2016, the pain began. “Out of nowhere, massive pain spread throughout my body. I was an active person and now I had difficulty walking down stairs and lifting my arms. I was in denial but my physical therapist recommended I see my doctor.”

When RA was confirmed, Jason researched the disease to learn how others were coping. “When my RA was at its worst, I thought of my brother, and feared that my daughter would grow up having no memory of us running and playing together. I was prepared to do anything to make sure that wouldn’t happen and resume a normal life.”

Jason immediately changed his lifestyle, adopting the Paleo diet and assembling a great medical team, which includes a rheumatologist, nutritionist, massage therapist and acupuncturist. He started attending Seattle Arthritis Support Network (now Live Yes! Arthritis Network) meetings to connect with others who were living with arthritis. “It was great to find a community of people who were facing the same challenges. Through this group, I learned about the Arthritis Foundation and set a goal to reduce my symptoms enough so I could run the 2017 Jingle Bell Run Seattle .”

Jason met his goal, ran in the 2017 event and captained the Seattle Live Yes! Connect team in 2018. “Today I’m living pain-free from the symptoms of RA, and there are many people who helped me regain my health. I want to continue to give back to the foundation and help raise awareness of the impact that arthritis has on the lives of millions of people, and help those who continue to suffer from the condition.”

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

Sofie Merrigan
Oligoarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

Sofie has been living with the challenges of juvenile arthritis since she was in kindergarten when both of her knees began to swell and she would come home crying from the pain. “Why can’t I run with all my friends, mama?” was heartbreaking for her parents to hear. When she finally received a diagnosis of oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it was an anguish and a relief for them, because it came with answers, a treatment plan, and a fabulous team of medical professionals ready to help.

For her autoimmune condition, aggressive treatment provides the best chance for Sofie to have as active a childhood as possible. Through the years, she has had surgeries, joint injections, mild chemotherapy and self-injectable biologics along with other anti-inflammatory medications. Now at 14, Sofie is an active teenager balancing school, friends, sports, and babysitting, as well as her chronic condition. She struggles with missing school due to illness and fatigue, juggling doctor appointments, and pushing herself to keep up with her teammates on the soccer field. “It’s really hard when my arthritis is flaring.” Sofie says, “My brain says go, but my body is in a dead stop and I feel like I have the flu. I get tired of having pain with every step.”

With the support of the Arthritis Foundation, Sofie participates in the Jingle Bell Run Seattle, attends the KAT-FISH Camp every summer, and experienced her first National JA Conference last summer in Bellevue, WA. Through these experiences, she has found a lifeline, connecting with kids just like her and discovering her voice to help raise awareness. She is very excited to be chosen as this year’s Youth Honoree. She is passionate about helping raise money for a cure and providing more access to care and support for families dealing with Arthritis.

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


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