Summerville teen gears up for Jingle Bell Run

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

The elf costumes worn here by Sarah Windham and her brother Stephen helped team Sarah’s Smile earn the Best Costume award for the 2011 Mt. Pleasant Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

Most people don’t associate Arthritis with distance running, but Sarah Windham is out to change that.
Windham, who was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when she was 2, is gearing up to run her second Mt. Pleasant Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis. Founded last year, the event encourages those suffering from all kinds of Arthritis, as well as those who don’t, to put bells on their shoes and run/walk the race in support of the Arthritis Foundation.
The second annual event is schedule for 9 a.m. Dec. 8 at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital.
Windham, who was the honoree for the inaugural race, has once again assembled a team to join her in the run and raising awareness/funds for the foundation. Information on team “Sarah’s Smile” as well as the race can be found at http://mpjbr.kintera.org.
“This is such a great event,” Windham said. “It brings out the holiday spirit in everyone. It helps the Arthritis Foundation and it gives children suffering from Arthritis an opportunity to be active. Keeping the joints moving is one of the most important things for someone affected by Arthritis. When it is a child, the worst thing they can do is just sit around and more people need to know that.”
The Summerville High School sophomore proves that while there is no cure for Arthritis, it can be managed. Sometimes the disease makes her joints tender and at others it makes them swell, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a starter on both the Green Wave volleyball and softball teams.
She has also become an advocate for the Arthritis Foundation, a role that garnered her a place in the national spotlight. Earlier this year the TV news magazine America Now, hosted by Leeza Gibbons and Bill Rancic, aired a segment featuring Windham discussing how she copes with Arthritis. The segment can be found at http://www.americanownews.com/story/19535825/juvenile-arthritis-cant-keep-teen-down.
“When they interviewed me I thought it was just going to be on the local news but I guess it was brought to that program’s attention,” Windham said. “It’s pretty cool and I like their take. It is something else that can get people involved with the cause and it conveys the message that this doesn’t have to be something that sets you back from accomplishing your goals.”
As of press time, Windham was among the Top 5 fundraisers for this year’s race. Contributions can be made through the website. Registration for the race is also available online or at 8 a.m. the day of the race.
“The course is pretty cool and there are a lot of activities such as a costume contest and face painting both before and after the race,” Windham said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

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