WEST ORANGE, NJ – For the first time in history, New Jersey’s Walk to Cure Arthritis will be held in West Orange. Approximately 1,000 participants from throughout the region are expected to participate in the Walk, which will take off from the Clipper Pavilion, 5 Cherry Lane, on Saturday morning.
Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by a morning program at 9 a.m., and then the Walk at 10 a.m.
Dr. Beth Chalom, a pediatric rheumatologist who resides in Livingston and has an office in West Orange, said she is looking forward to walking with many of her patients and hundreds of other people who all want to find a cure for arthritis.
Since she first began participating in 2005, Chalom said she has witnessed the progress of biologic medications “that have totally changed the life of people with arthritis.”
“When I was a Fellow about 25 years ago, people with arthritis came to the waiting room in a wheelchair, with crutches and in slings,” she said. “Today, with biologics, I have patients who are running around, climbing rocks walls and more. Unfortunately, biologics don’t work for everyone, and the medications have side effects. This includes suppressing the immune system…We need to find out what causes arthritis and find a cure.”
For 10 years, Verona Park was the home for the walk, but Chalom said she hopes the new West Orange site will host the walk for the next decade and beyond. She urged young families to bring their children to the walk, which she said is very kid friendly, with face painting before the walk and opportunities to win prizes after while families play games, enjoy a live band and share a meal together.
As part of Essex County Cares, all participants will receive a wristband that will allow access to the Turtle Back Zoo, minGOLF Safari and Cody Arena at a reduced rate.
According to the event website, the fundraising goal is $300,000, with $116,661 raised to date. Funds help to support advancements in medicine; treatments and technology to improve the quality of life of people with arthritis while searching for the cure; fostering advocacy efforts to fight barriers to access medicine and treatments; helping connect families whose children face the challenges of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (such as Lupus) so they don’t feel alone anymore; and more.
To this end, the Arthritis Foundation in New Jersey funds Camp CHAT in Hackensack, which provides children and teens with arthritis with an overnight camping experience. It will be held this year from July 22 to July 27.
“This summer camp for kids with arthritis is huge for them,” said Chalom. “Having arthritis as a young person can be depressing. When they go to this camp, it helps them build their self-esteem…When kids see other kids dealing with the same issues, it helps increase their compliance in taking the medication that makes them healthier.”
The honorees for this year’s walk include Robert Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health and corporate chair; teen honoree Amanda Hermann, who has gone from a wheelchair to walking as she continues to battle Systemic and Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; Andrew Curtis, a champion of Yes honoree who, through medications and physical therapy, was able to be on his high school’s varsity football, swimming and golf teams despite having Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA); and Isabella Musullo, youth honoree with JIA, who is a member of a competitive dance team and living a normal life with the help of her medication.
This walk is being locally presented by Hackensack Meridian Health. Other local sponsors include RWJBarnabas Health, FLT: Independent Order of Odd Fellows New Jersey Grand Lodge, Millie Luing Foundation, Delta Dental of New Jersey, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman P.C. and the Kessler Foundation. National sponsors for the Arthritis Walks throughout the country are AMGEN (Presenting Sponsor); Signature Sponsors abbvie, Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron; and Supporting Sponsor Bristol Myers Squibb.