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The Catalyst

Charleston Arthritis Walk honors champions at May 4 event

The Charleston Arthritis Walk 2013 will take place May 4. The event, presented by Trident Pain Center and the Arthritis Foundation, will help raise funds for research, support and awareness against arthritis.

The walk will be held at James Island County Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the walk starting at 10 a.m. Participants can walk a three-mile or one-mile course to support friends or family with arthritis. Individuals with arthritis are encouraged to wear blue hats to promote awareness.
The event is part of the Let’s Move Together national campaign encouraging people to prevent and treat arthritis through movement and activity. The walk celebrates National Arthritis Month in more than 300 communities nationwide to fund arthritis research, health education and advocacy initiatives.

To commemorate the walk, the Arthritis Foundation recognizes three champions. They include medical honoree Natasha M. Ruth, M.D., who joined MUSC Children’s Hospital in 2006 as its first board-certified pediatric rheumatologist; pediatric honoree Melissa Whaley; and Linda Klomparens, who died in April 2012 following her 32-year battle with rheumatoid arthritis. Klomparens will be celebrated as an honoree.

Ruth specializes in caring for children with rheumatic diseases such as juvenile arthritis, lupus, vasculitis, inflammatory muscle disease and fibromyalgia. She is involved in juvenile arthritis research looking at novel treatment modalities and managing the hospital’s national pediatric rheumatology registry. Ruth also contributes to lupus research specifically looking at neurocognitive lupus, a lupus application for mobile phones and lupus kidney disease.

“I hope to continue MUSC’s efforts in discovering new treatments for children with juvenile arthritis and improving their quality of life,” said Ruth.

Whaley was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 17 months old. Growing up, she had to sleep with braces on her legs and wrist, and she received treatment at MUSC. Now age 14, Whaley is an active teen playing a variety of sports.

Klomparens was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1978 and had joint pain in her hands. After having joint replacements, Klomparens’ pain and inflammation increased to become very severe. She died in 2012 from respiratory complications related to her disease.

In South Carolina, there are nearly 1 million people who are diagnosed with some form of arthritis. About 4,000 of those diagnosed are children. Arthritis can affect children as early as a year old.

Without treatment, it can interfere with a child’s normal growth and development. Although there is no cure for arthritis, specific treatments can help control and prevent further damage to a patient’s joints and other tissues.

The Arthritis Foundation is the largest private, non-profit contributor to arthritis research worldwide, funding more than $400 million in research grants since 1948. 

For more information or to donate, visit or contact Joyce Gilles, 686-7399 or

April 18, 2013

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