Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States and effects one out of every five adults. But this disease is not just an issue for older people.
Ross Alvine is just your average 12-year old, but in his short life he's already endured a tremendous amount of pain.
"About a year ago, things got really bad with Ross's pain, we had kind of noticed things over the years prior to that but it just got really bad." Said Ross's mother, Allison Alvine.
Ross was unable to get out of bed and needed help dressing himself because his joints were painfully stiff. At just 11-years old, Ross was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis.
"I told some of my friends and they were like really? That's an old person's disease! That's what I thought at first also but it's not." Said Ross.
"It's always difficult to tell your child he has a lifelong illness, but at the same time it was comforting to have a name." Said Allison.
Juvenile Arthritis has been diagnosed in more than 300,000 kids nationwide. More than a thousand are from South Dakota. But doctors believe there are plenty more kids living with the pain.
"It's so hard to diagnose in children there are so many things children are going thorough in their lives that you can't pinpoint it." Said Vickie Goodwin, the community development specialist for the Arthritis Foundation.
Another reason it's hard to diagnose is because there's a shortage of pediatric rheumatologists that can diagnose and help families like the Alvine's treat the disease. It's a problem all across the country but it's one you can help to correct by simply getting into the holiday spirit.
The Arthritis Foundation relies on fundraiser's like the Jingle Bell Run to raise awareness to the disease and continue the search for a cure.
"With that money we're able to fund research to find a cure for arthritis and finding better medications for those people suffering from arthritis." Said Goodwin.
Ross is this year's honoree for the Sioux Falls event and couldn't be more proud.
"I'm happy because then a lot of people will see that a lot of kids get it and there's one in Sioux Falls, in their community that has arthritis." Said Ross.
"He wants to reach out to all the kids here in South Dakota who have this disease and need to know other kids that have it too." Said Allison.
Kids like Julia Lair and Katie Campbell. After their diagnosis, they pretty much became Ross's extended family members. Ross knows it's a long and potentially painful road ahead of him but he's ready for the challenge.
"I just take my shot every week, and every other week I take another shot, I take medicine every day but otherwise I feel great!" Said Ross.
While people may call it an old person's disease Ross isn't letting something like arthritis stop him from being a kid
"I like to wakeboard, snowboard, I also like to hunt with my dad, I'm almost a black belt in Tae-Kwan-Do." Said Ross.
"He's committed to helping the Arthritis Foundation find a cure, that's his ultimate goal is to find a cure." Said Allison.
The Jingle Bell Run is next Friday, November 23 and starts at 6:30PM at Falls Park. You can register your team online at arthritis.org or by calling (605) 201-7973.
If your child is suffering from the disease and your family could use some help or just someone to talk to there's the Juvenile Arthritis Family Network. Allison Alvine heads the network and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (605) 212-1445