The Ashland Beacon
Sydney Kinnel is a senior at Boyd County High and a Junior Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation. She's involved with Varsity Tennis, Academic Team, Key Club, and Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) Club. She volunteers her time at KDMC as a Teen Volunteer, plays guitar and is an avid crocheter. Arthritis can't keep her down, she has her hands in a little bit of everything.
"I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis with an Enthesitis-related subtype, which basically is arthritis that affects the tissue at the insertion points where ligaments and tendons connect to bones," shared Kinnel. Kinnel goes on to explain when she was diagnosed and her journey since her diagnosis, "I was diagnosed in the fall of 2021, after years of struggling with unidentified pain. Throughout my childhood and up until last year, I would have strange fractures and swelling that made it painful to run, walk, and even just lay down. It was not until the inflammation damaged my Sacroiliac joint, that we were able to get on the right path to get a diagnosis. We got to the bottom of it with help from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Ohio Spine Institute," added Kinnel.
Kinnel then explained the proposed treatment for her Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, “Upon my diagnosis, I was prescribed Humira, an injection that I administer twice a month. After my first few injections, I felt an incredible difference. It had been years since I had been totally pain free and now I can say that I am. I can play tennis, run, climb stairs, and lay flat with no problem,” explained Kinnel. It's very encouraging that she was able to finally find some relief from pain.
Obviously, an Arthritis diagnosis is a game changer for most people. Everyone has to adjust accordingly once they receive a diagnosis. Kinnel described how her diagnosis has changed her life, "I have found that more has changed in my life since my diagnosis, than my physical health. Years and years of confusion and worry about my health weighed on me mentally. When the burden of constant pain and regular doctors visits was lifted, it was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am in a much better place mentally now and feel like a normal 17-year-old." Kinnel's description of relief and change to normalcy; should be an encouragement for others facing this diagnosis, at such a young age.
Like most people, Kinnel researched after being diagnosed. "Shortly after getting diagnosed, I did some research on the disease and learned more about it. I found that there are 300,000 kids with JIA and fewer than 500 pediatric rheumatologists to treat them. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have the means to drive to Cincinnati or Columbus for doctors appointments, to pay for the scans and medication. A lot of kids do not have this opportunity. A lot of kids can’t get diagnosed and get on the road to recovery. I also found the Arthritis Foundation’s Teen Ambassador program. They uplift kids with JIA and help them to use their stories to make a difference. I became a Junior Ambassador and immediately wanted to do something to benefit my community and the Arthritis Foundation alike."
Kinnel told us her inspiration for offering a local 5K fundraiser benefiting JIA, "At the end of August, I came to Bill Burch, the leader of BCBKYCVS, or Boyd County Branch of Kentucky Youth Council on Volunteerism and Service, to help me sponsor a 5K. He directed me toward Alan Osuch, a local race planner. I met up with Mr. and Mrs. Osuch to discuss my idea at the beginning of September and we immediately got started. He helped me to decide on the logistics, date, location, and details of the race. He is the expert on all things 5K and I couldn’t do any of this without him." The Ashland Beacon is no stranger to Alan Osuch and Osuch Race Planners, he's helping people in our community fundraise one race at a time and the causes vary, but still manage to show so much heart for the Tri-state area.
"The “Kids Get Arthritis, Too” race is on November 20 at 2 p.m. in downtown Catlettsburg. All of the proceeds will go to the Arthritis Foundation to assist in their efforts to increase education and outreach on JIA. I am hoping to have a good turnout! I am involving my school’s Key Club and HOSA club to help on race day and am asking everyone I see to register. Fortunately, I have a lot of great friends in the community that can help me spread the word," concluded Kinnel.
Please come out and support this worthy cause. Kinnel is the epitome of strength; she has faced her diagnosis with bravery and she is raising funds for others with JIA. Kinnel is bringing awareness to our community that kids can get Arthritis too!