2019 Jingle Bell Run Honorees


Andrew Franken, OD
Vision Care Associates
Medical Honoree

For some people, the physical toll of arthritis extends beyond debilitating joint pain. As an optometrist and the co-founder of Vision Care Associates in Shawnee, Dr. Andrew Franken sees that every day. “Whether it's a chronic condition like dry eye syndrome, a toxic ocular side effect of an arthritis medication, or an acute inflammatory flare-up like uveitis, I am constantly reminded of the impact this disease can have on the eyes and vision,” Franken says. Franken was nominated as this year’s Medical Honoree by the parents of a young boy who has Juvenile Arthritis (JA) and battles uveitis, a form of eye inflammation that can be triggered by autoimmune diseases like JA. They were touched by the care that Dr. Franken provided for their son, and Franken is now looking forward to serving as this year’s Medical Honoree. “It's important to support the Arthritis Foundation because the organization has been a great advocate and resource for arthritis patients and those caring for arthritis patients,” says Franken, who started his practice in 2008. “I am hopeful the funds raised for research will continue to improve patient's lives and someday discover a cure.”

Join the fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Chelsie Calvert
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Adult Honoree

Chelsie Calvert of Kansas City, KS, doesn’t remember life without arthritis. Diagnosed at age 1 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), she has spent a lifetime learning about the disease – and how to adjust accordingly. “As I get older and change, my RA seems to change with me,” Chelsie says. “I am constantly learning how to adjust to new symptoms and new pains.” The pictures of Chelsie’s childhood tell her story, with her inflamed, misshapen knee serving as a reminder of how far she’s come. Now 28, Chelsie controls her arthritis through therapy, nutrition, medication and exercise. “I have learned to listen to my body, good or bad,” she says. “I have aches and pains but, for the most part, I’m in a good place.” Which brings her to the Jingle Bell Run, an event that means so much to Chelsie and her family. “The Arthritis Foundation helps remind me that I am not alone in this battle,” she says. “Growing up, that was the hardest part for me – feeling like I didn’t have anyone who could relate to this bizarre disease. The Arthritis Foundation, and events like the Jingle Bell Run, provide a sense of community and support that is truly irreplaceable!”

Join Chelsie in her fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Gracie Miller
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

When Gracie Miller of White Cloud, KS, was 5 years old, she struggled doing some of the simplest things: sitting on her knees, climbing in and out of the car, playing on the jungle gym, even making a fist. Finally, after multiple doctor visits, a physician told her parents he suspected arthritis and sent them to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for tests. Within days, it was official – their little girl had juvenile idiopathic polyarticular arthritis.

Gracie is 11 now, and she’s a completely different child. Healthy and active, she participates in volleyball and basketball. She runs, jumps on the trampoline, even attends the Arthritis Foundation’s annual summer camp for kids.

“She’s doing wonderful,” says her mom, Jenn. “And she absolutely loves camp. She enjoys visiting with other kids who have similar stories, and she doesn’t have to feel like the odd man out.” Gracie is also a Jingle Bell Run veteran, and she’s thrilled this year to be one of our Youth Honorees. “Raising funds for research is the best way we can help these kids and any future kids who have arthritis,” Jenn says. “We also want to get the awareness out there so more people understand what these kids go through. We want to get the conversation going about how we can improve their lives.”

Join Gracie in her fight against arthritis, register or donate today!

Jett Shane
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Youth Honoree

More than anything else, Jett Shane of Richmond, MO, wants to be “normal.” He wants to bend his knees without pain when it’s his turn to bat in baseball. He wants to live his life without daily medications and weekly injections. Most of all, he wants to run and play and have fun like all his friends do. “As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to watch your child suffer,” says Jett’s mom, Kristin. “He wants to play like all the other kids, but sometimes his body just won’t let him.” Jett, 8, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis four years ago. He has since become an Arthritis Foundation veteran, attending the annual Camp Joint Adventures each of the last two years and making his Jingle Bell Run debut last year, when his team raised more than $4,400. “We absolutely loved the Jingle Bell Run last year, and our goal is to have a bigger team and raise more money this year,” Kristin says. “We will fight this disease until we win. Jett lights up every room he’s in with his smile and his personality, and I have no doubt he has this disease and this opportunity for a reason – to do big things and help find a cure so other kids don’t ever have to go through this.” And that’s why Jett Shane is this year’s boy Youth Honoree!

Join Jett in his fight against arthritis, register or donate today!