Last week, we talked about the American Heart Association and their Go Red for Women campaign, which is raising awareness and fighting heart disease in women. This week, let us turn our attention to the nation’s most common cause of disability – arthritis – and examine how we can help the efforts of the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org).
Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 different conditions that affect joints, as well as other parts of the body. Fifty million Americans have some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In Tennessee, that number stands at almost 1.2 million adults, or approximately 26 percent of the state’s adult population. “That means for every four employees you have on your team, one will be diagnosed with arthritis,” notes Karen Watson, development and services director for our Memphis office.
Arthritis also affects nearly 300,000 children nationally and nearly 6,000 in Tennessee. The annual cost of arthritis to the national economy was $128 billion in 2003, so it will be interesting to see the updated statistics once those are released. Bottom line: Arthritis is something we need to take seriously and work to raise awareness, so people know where to turn for help.
The Arthritis Foundation is focused on improving lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases. They are the single largest nonprofit funder of arthritis research in the world and currently fund five scientists here in Memphis, which is an impressive talking point for our city.
The foundation offers a number of local community-based programs and services, such as a Life Improvement Series and Aquatic and Exercise Programs. They serve as a central nervous system for connecting patients to physicians and each other for support, disseminating information and guidance on proper exercise. As Watson states, “Movement is the best medicine. The key, then, is detecting it soon and knowing where to turn for help.”
Giving back to the Arthritis Foundation starts with education and advocacy. If you are taking part in a city-wide event, invite them to participate. Invite one of their guest speakers or physicians to come in and speak to your organization. Lunch seminars are a popular opportunity for your team to learn more about arthritis, along with preventive measures and exercise tips.
In terms of events, they will host the 2011 Arthritis Walk-Memphis on June 4 at Shelby Farms Park, and their famous “Bone Bash: The Masquerade” on Oct. 29. May is Arthritis Awareness Month and there are opportunities to serve on various committees, which provide fun opportunities to help. Lastly, if you know a child with juvenile arthritis, the Foundation has scholarships available to send them to Camp Courageous Kids, a world-class medical camping facility that surrounds them with love and support.
Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.