Alicia Rider is a 38-year-old wife, mother, and competitive runner. Her RA journey began 8 years ago, at six-weeks pregnant with shoulder pain. She was running 40 miles weekly, so she blamed the pain on workouts and rested. The pain dissipated as quickly as it came on, so she dismissed it. Over the next several months Alicia would experience many flare-ups with increasing pain. Once referred to a rheumatologist, she began treatment for the pain and flares but had no diagnosis.
During pregnancy, her inflammatory markers were through the roof but showed no RA factor. Her doctor diagnosed her with palindromic rheumatism. It wasn’t until after Alicia delivered that her RA factor showed positive and she was diagnosed with RA, which then attacked her with a vengeance. She worried she may never run again and asked her rheumatologist about the ability to run another marathon. She was desperate to feel “normal” again. When he was unsure, she would ever run that distance again, she wept. Alicia wanted to run and to be “normal”. She searched for fellow runners with RA but came up short, so she began a personal mission to utilize social media to connect with others like herself, to bring awareness and to show others that an active lifestyle is still possible.
Alicia would go on to race Boston – 5 times to be exact. It took sacrifice, medication changes, lifestyle adjustments and questioning why she still put her body through it all. She did it because it is a part of who she is and because to show her daughter a strong role model. Getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is terrifying - your life changes and there isn't a cure! That’s why Alicia is teaming up with AF to bring awareness and raise money.
Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Adams School of Dentistry. Upon his arrival at UNC, Dr. Matthews established an innovative virtual and real-time inter-disciplinary clinic with pediatric rheumatologists at UNC and Duke University, specifically for the management of TMJ (jaw joint) disease in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Dr. Eve Wu, a pediatric rheumatologist at UNC and the Medical Chair for the Triangle Area Arthritis Foundation Leadership Board states “Dr. Matthews is highly regarded for his work in TMJ disease in children with JIA. TMJ involvement is under-recognized in JIA, and if not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, it can result in joint damage and deformity. I have had the privilege of observing first-hand the extraordinary care Dr. Matthews has been able to provide children with TMJ arthritis. He has done amazing things to improve their quality of life. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor”.
Dr. Matthews is well-known for his expertise in TMJ disease. He has written numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and has also been invited internationally to speak on TMJ-related subjects. Dr. Matthews is thrilled to be this year’s Jingle Bell Run Medical Honoree and draws inspiration for his work through the ability to positively impact the lives of his patients by reducing their pain, improving their function and enhancing their overall quality of life. When he is not taking care of children and adults affected by TMJ disease and JIA, he enjoys keeping fit, tennis, traveling and collecting art, on his own time. If you are inspired by Dr. Matthews’ story, please consider making a donation in kind to the Arthritis Foundation 2019 Jingle Bell Run.