D’ville Teen Kayla Thomas Takes Strides to Fight Arthritis

When Kayla Thomas was six she began having unexplained pains in her legs. Her mom Amanda Watson took Kayla to the doctor where she was told they were  most likely growing pains. However, the pain continued for several weeks and, still seeking answers, Amanda took Kayla to sports medicine specialists and other doctors who could not find anything wrong with her.

Then one morning Kayla could not straighten her leg and Kayla ended up in the emergency room at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Again, the doctors could not find an explanation for Kayla’s pain. At Amanda’s urging, a pediatrician was sent to examine Kayla who upon listening to her symptoms got her in to see a rheumatologist.

Immediately, Kayla was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease often marked by stiffness and inflammation of the joints, weakness and loss of mobility. After being prescribed prednisone, Kayla was up and walking around within 24 hours.

Today, Kayla is a freshman at South River High School where she is on the cheerleading squad and softball team. For the most part, she is able to manage the disease through exercise and medication.

Kayla Thomas was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was six. She keeps active by playing softball for  South River and as a cheerleader.

About a year ago, Amanda said Kayla was frustrated that she could not always physically keep up with her friends.

“Kayla kept asking ‘why me’ so we decided to get involved with the local Arthritis Foundation to show Kayla that she was not alone in her fight against this disease.”

In Maryland, 1.1 million people suffer from arthritis and in the Mid-Atlantic, 56,000 kids have been diagnosed with the disease.

Through their involvement with the Arthritis Foundation, Amanda and Kayla met up with Jillian Beam, the associate development director for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Inspired by Kayla’s story, Beam asked Kayla to serve as an honoree for the 2012 Maryland Jingle Bell 5K Run and to sit on the Junior Planning Committee for the 2013 Maryland Capital Arthritis Walk scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at Quiet Waters Park.

As a member of the committee, Kayla is tasked with recruiting friends and family to participate in the walk . Members of the softball team plan on attending and Kayla is working with other South County schools to form additional teams.

Kayla is excited to help with the event and looks forward to a great turnout. The walk is open to kids, adults and dogs, who also suffer from arthritis. There is a 1 and 3 mile course.  The opening ceremony begins at 8 a.m. and walkers set off at 9 a.m. The day includes a crafts for the kids, a wellness area, clowns, face painting and more.

 The event is free. Individuals may register on-site or at www.marylandcapitalarthritiswalk.kintera.org  Dogs are welcome to walk as well but must be on a leash.

“Arthritis is one of the most debilitating diseases in the country,” said Beam. “Exercise such as walking is one of the best forms of treatment followed by medicine. We hope a lot of folks come out and walk with us as we take one step closer to finding a cure.”

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About Cynthia Giorgio

I'm Cynthia Giorgio, co-founding editor of South River Source. I love to write about the people, places, news and events in South County. Send story ideas to cynthia@southriversource.com or call me at 301-906-4767.

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