If you were told you had one hour to evacuate your home, what would you pack?
In the summer of 2016, Allie Dewey was among 80,000 residents forced to flee Fort McMurray as a massive wildfire ripped through the community. The first things the 17-year-old grabbed were the plaques awarded to her by the Arthritis Society for her exceptional fundraising efforts.
As a child, Allie was diagnosed with childhood arthritis, a form of the condition unique to children and teens. Arthritis is a painful condition often associated with aging, yet it is estimated that as many as 24,000 Canadian infants, children and teens are living with childhood arthritis, resulting in painful flare-ups, restricted mobility and the risk of permanent joint damage and disfigurement if not treated quickly.
Allie has juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), which is the most common form of childhood arthritis. “Idiopathic” means the cause is unidentified.
Following her diagnosis, Allie was determined not to let the diagnosis limit her. She wanted to generate public awareness about childhood arthritis, and to raise as much money as possible for medical research for a cure. She has done so by volunteering and fundraising for the Walk to Fight Arthritis, the Arthritis Society’s annual national fundraising event. Allie has earned the coveted top individual fundraiser award at the Edmonton Walk for three years running.
Despite the emotional and physical upheaval of being displaced from her home, Allie was equally determined not to let the wildfire interfere with her mission to provide vital assistance to advance our understanding and find new ways to treat the disease. After they were evacuated and settled, Allie managed to collect over $3,800 for the Walk, earning the top fundraiser award yet again.
The accomplishment is even more remarkable considering that much of Allie’s funding coming from the people of Fort McMurray, where entire neighbourhoods were reduced to charred concrete and ash, and the residents had no idea what — if anything — remained of the homes they were asked to leave.
But none would deny the unflagging generosity of Allie and the residents of Fort McMurray who, in perhaps their own greatest time of need, were still dedicated enough to participate in and donate to help the Arthritis Society support other people in need.