Trail had its first-ever Walk to Fight Arthritis this year, and it was largely inspired by a very brave seven year old girl. Her name is Zoe, and for the people in Trail, she is the reason they came out to support this important cause. Because seven year olds aren’t supposed to have arthritis.
Cindy and Adam Belleperche's daughter, Zoe, was diagnosed with Juvenile Ideopathic Arthritis (JIA) in February of last year. Zoe was just five at the time. It was a shocking diagnosis, and one that started an unanticipated journey for the entire family that included trips to BC Children's Hospital, doctor's offices to see pediatric rheumatologists, and many other medical appointments. It also led them to become a part of the Walk to Fight Arthritis in Trail on June 4. As a mom and a nurse, Cindy wants to be able to share what she has learned to help create awareness about the realities of juvenile arthritis. Early diagnosis and treatment can have a dramatic affect on the disease and its progression. When asked why she is involved with The Arthritis Society's Walk to Fight Arthritis, Cindy shares:
"Our family is walking in the Trail Walk to Fight Arthritis to raise awareness about this disease, and to educate people that it can happen to kids too. Zoe was diagnosed with systemic arthritis last year, and life quickly became a series of doctor's appointments, medications and blood tests. My son, Tristan, had an idea to help, inspired by a recent walk to raise funds that his school did. He suggested that I organize a walk for Zoe, to help find a cure for her disease. He even created ‘help save Zoe posters’, in his efforts to find a cure for his little sister.
The timing wasn't right to organize an event myself, but my research into it showed that The Arthritis Society, BC & Yukon Division, was putting on a Walk to Fight Arthritis in Kelowna last June. Our entire family walked in it, and Zoe and her brother Tristan fundraised in our neighbourhood in Trail and raised over $1200. The Walk to Fight Arthritis in Kelowna was a very positive experience, and it was good to see the support around us.
We were so surprised and happy to find out that this year, The Arthritis Society had decided to hold a Walk to Fight Arthritis in Trail! I found out about it on Facebook, and through a friend in the community. Once people started hearing about it, they came forward to us, knowing about Zoe and her fight with the disease.”
Zoe’s family formed a team for the Trail Walk to Fight Arthritis, calling themselves Zoe's Fighters. The family, along with Zoe herself, invited everyone in the community to join their team for the Walk. As Zoe’s mom adds,
“Arthritis touches us all, and we are sharing Zoe's story so that it can make a difference to another child or family who may be facing the same thing one day."
Thanks to Zoe and her family, and the devoted community of Trail, almost $8,000 was raised on this single day! None of it would have happened with Zoe and her family being willing to share her story and journey with arthritis. Thank you to the Belleperche family!