Did you know that rheumatoid arthritis does not discriminate, and often strikes young children? Hayden Sousa is 5 years old and has been dealing with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since he was 4. His mother, Sara Sousa, believes her son to be very brave. “Most people do not know that children get arthritis, too! Hayden lives a very painful life at such an early age, and is committed to giving back,” said Sara, adding that they have received much support throughout the community. Hayden and his family, Atascocita residents, participated in the Houston Arthritis Walk June 2, and was cheered on by his team, Hayden’s Heroes. Before the day of the walk, Hayden and his team had raised $11,570 to give to the Arthritis Foundation for research. “They pulled Hayden on stage and announced, ‘Hayden Sousa will be the Houston Arthritis Walk Hero for 2013!’ We are so proud! So get ready; next year will be huge,” Sara said. “Thanks to all of our family and friends in the community who reached out to help such a great cause and show their love and support for Hayden!” “The Arthritis Foundation helps children like Hayden with research for new medications and treatments that allow him to live an active child-like life,” Sara explained. “Before the bi-weekly injections of Humira, Hayden could not walk in the morning and limped all throughout the day, now he is playing soccer and baseball! It is truly amazing.” On the day of the walk these were Hayden’s exact words: “I hope this day never ends!” Hayden said, “Arthritis is when you have a swollen knee and it hurts!” Hayden’s dad, Dennis Sousa, is excited to get out the word that children, like his son, suffer from JRA. “We are committed to the Arthritis Foundation because it has touched our lives in a major way. We are here as a family to raise awareness that kids get arthritis too. The walk was ‘good’ with hundreds of people together to walk, but it needs to be ‘great’ with thousands of people walking. Please help fight this terrible disease that has no cure – Yet!” The Sousa family agrees the sad part is that there is not enough talk about the annual Houston Arthritis Walk. “We live in a huge city and wish more people were aware of this debilitating disease,” Sara said. “Over 50 million people live with some type of arthritis and over 300,000 children as well. It is very painful and very expensive. We just want more people to have the awareness we now have! Thank you again for your interest and time with my son’s story! My heart has truly been touched by this entire experience! Hayden is only 5 years old and already making a difference!”

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