Lacey Meeks spent 10 years seeking an explanation for the relentless pain she experienced on a daily basis. In 2018, the amazing Dr. Matthew Mundwiler of the Columbus Arthritis Center diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis. After living with a misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia for a decade, this knowledge set her life on a new course.
Lacey is proud of the things she’s accomplished. Since graduating with a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Ohio University (where she is an active board member for that program), she’s assisted in passing critical legislation for the state of Ohio, managed some of the largest political action committees in the state, worked with children facing mental illness, and started her own business. But she won’t sugarcoat it: Lacey missed out on a lot of life during that time. It’s not easy to earn a degree or hold down a full-time job when you’re in and out of the doctor’s office. It’s not easy to build relationships and serve other people when your own pain feels all-consuming, which makes her so grateful for her supportive fiancé Frankie Kuhne, her family, and her SeneGence community, who have been along side her through this journey.
Lacey understands the unique struggles that people with arthritis face, which is why she has become an active volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation. The opportunity to meet so many others who are suffering from this disease has lit a fire in her to advocate for change. So many of us have been unheard, disregarded, and misdiagnosed. The Arthritis Foundation offers critical education and tools to become a self-advocate within a supportive community.
Will you join our community of warriors? Lacey is so honored to be the 2019 Jingle Bell Run Columbus Adult Honoree. She hopes you’ll run with her on December 7 to give the 1 in 4 Americans living with arthritis the support they need to thrive. Together, we can jingle our way to a cure!
I am four years old and my journey started October 16, 2016, the day before my second birthday. I spiked a high fever, my face swelled, and we were in South Carolina on our way home from a trip. We rushed to the hospital and my mom was told I had a virus and that I’d be okay just to keep an eye on it. The next day, October 17, 2016, my second birthday, there I was back in the hospital with the same high fever that wouldn’t go away. I was told I had a UTI. Exactly one month later I spiked another fever and was told it was another UTI. Every month for almost ten months my mom was taking me to the hospital and I was getting misdiagnosed. In the craziness of the misdiagnosis and multiple hospital visits and admissions, I found out that I have a duplex kidney and kidney reflux.
Finally, a doctor noticed the recurring fevers and sent me to a specialist. They then diagnosed me with PFAPA, which is an autoimmune disorder. My mom talked to the specialist and tried getting my tonsils out which she was told would give me a high chance to help fight off my autoimmune disorder. I had them taken out November of 2017. This, unfortunately, did not help! My mom noticed each time I was getting a fever I would become mean, cranky, and I wouldn’t eat or drink, which means back to the hospital. The main thing she noticed was my knees. My knees kept swelling up and I would complain about them hurting. My doctor did an ultrasound and x-ray and they appeared what they call “normal”. My mommy knew something was going on and kept pushing for an MRI. My doctor finally agreed. August 5, 2018 our world stopped. My mommy found out I had arthritis at the age of three. It was very hard to deal with and the best way for me to understand it was the movie Trolls. My mommy knew I loved the song “I got this feeling”. “I got this feeling inside my bones” is exactly how I feel but sometimes I’m not sure how to express it. I am teaming up with the Arthritis Foundation to fight for a cure. I have my own Jingle Bell Run Team and it’s called “Avia’s Battle is Our Battle Too!” My mommy started it in honor of me because I am NOT alone in this battle and neither is anyone else!
I can’t wait to jingle at the race with other kids just like me. I hope you’ll jingle with me too.
Youth Athlete Honoree
Colten Phay is a 17-year-old senior at Bexley High School. Colten was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in July 2019. This diagnosis of RA at such a young age changed his world. As he was playing on the Bexley Soccer and Tennis teams at the time, he did not know if he would ever participate in the things he loved again. Thanks to the advanced medications of today, he can continue to do the things he loves and live like a normal kid. His goal is to work with the Arthritis Foundation to help raise money and bring further advancements. Carpe diem.