• Kelly Miyamoto

The Walk for Arthritis: 10 Years of Raising Awareness


PHOTO COURTESY DIANNE DE BONVILLE

Pincourt resident Rafaëlle Boisvert (front) and her family will also be taking part in the Walk for Arthritis and the 8-year-old’s resilient spirit is an inspiration to other arthritis sufferers.

Many of us associate arthritis with the elderly. We are generally aware that it affects joint mobility and can cause significant pain. However, despite arthritis being very common and well-heard of, there seems to be a similarly common lack of appreciation for just how severe it can be.

This absence of widespread knowledge and deeper understanding is exactly what the Arthritis Society aims to change. This year, the Walk for Arthritis is celebrating its 10th anniversary of bringing communities across Canada together to promote awareness and raise funds for necessary research to improve the lives of more than 6 million Canadians affected by arthritis.

Olympic champion François Hamelin has joined efforts as a spokesperson and ambassador for the Walk for Arthritis. Because he has personally witnessed within his own family the impact that arthritis can have, furthering this cause is close to his heart. Hamelin’s young cousin suffers from juvenile arthritis and he grew up seeing his grandfather dealing with it as well.

PHOTO COURTESY DIANNE DE BONVILLE

Olympic speedskater François Hamelin is this year’s spokesperson and ambassador for the Walk for Arthritis, having witnessed the impact the disease has had within his own family.

"I remember him suffering, but without really knowing what he had," said Hamelin.

When he later learned more about the condition and became involved with the Arthritis Society, he realized that raising awareness should be a high priority.

One in five Canadians lives with arthritis. It is the most prevalent chronic health condition in Canada, and it is expected that one in four Canadians will have arthritis by 2035. Pain and restricted mobility resulting from this disease can diminish quality of life and can contribute to negative effects on mental health. Day-to-day activities and seemingly simple tasks that the majority of people might take for granted can become very difficult when living with the effects of arthritis. There are ways to manage pain, but it is a daily struggle and there is not yet a cure.

Hamelin and the Arthritis Society hope to further efforts toward finding a solution.

"The biggest challenge right now is to raise money to improve research," said Hamelin. "To help right now is to participate."

Educating ourselves about arthritis and doing our part to raise awareness is an important step toward helping those affected by this disease.

Though the likelihood of developing this disease does increase with age, arthritis can affect people of all ages.

Rafaëlle Boisvert, an eight-year-old ringette player and Pincourt resident, has been battling arthritis for four years. The condition itself, as well as treatments including injections and blood sampling, is no small things to deal with but Boisvert maintains a resilient spirit and positive attitude. She will be participating in the walk again this year, surrounded by loved ones and supporters while showing everyone that arthritis cannot hold her back.

"If you have people around you with arthritis, you'll see that they are not stopped from moving. That's a major point. Keep moving, don't stop. Arthritis cannot stop you from moving," said Hamelin.

Join Hamelin and Boisvert in the 10th edition of the Walk for Arthritis in Montreal June 1.

For more information or to register for the Walk in communities across Canada, go to walkforarthritis.ca.

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