Girl with juvenile arthritis creates change for others like her

2 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Wednesday, July 04 2018 Jul 4, 2018 Wednesday, July 04, 2018 8:55:00 PM CDT July 04, 2018 in News
By: Kamaria Braye, KOMU 8 News
loading

COLUMBIA- A Columbia girl with juvenile arthritis says her motivation and determination outpowers her pain every day.

Thirteen-year-old Kyleigh O'Brien was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at age eight.

“It affects my knees, ankles, fingers and sometimes my elbows,” she said.

Kyleigh is a young advocate fighting to help herself, and other children, with the disease. She has been a junior ambassador at the U.S. Capitol for five years, and has asked lawmakers to join her fight to bring awareness to this medical issue.

“It’s really empowering to know that you can help thousands of kids by telling your story to the senators and representatives and ,like, it feels really good to like help kids like that,” she said.

Kyleigh has also been lobbying for the Ensuring Children's Access to Specialty Care Act of 2017, before the U.S. Senate.

“It helps get more pediatric rheumatologists because we have a shortage. They, like, group together in different states. There aren’t very many for kids to go to," Kyleigh said.

Pediatric rheumatologists are physicians that specialize in helping children with rheumatic diseases.

“There are 300,000 children with arthritis and there’s less than 350 pediatric rheumatologists in the U.S.,” Kyleigh said.

Her mother, Janet O'Brien, said before Kyleigh was diagnosed, she was sick for about nine months.

“Just weird symptoms like a headache or tummy ache and like low-grade fevers and we’d been taking her back and forth to doctors trying to figure out what was going,” O'Brien said.

She said doctors couldn’t come up with a reason why Kyleigh was sick.

O'Brien said, seven months later, Kyleigh experienced knee pain and was diagnosed with bilateral patellar tendonitis. But, O'Brien was doubtful.

“We kind of thought that doesn’t sound like its likely, but we just went along with it and gave her some ibuprofen for about 10 days and she felt better,” she said.

However, six weeks later, Kyleigh’s knee pain returned when she was at school.

“Kyleigh told me she could not go back because they were going to make her sit criss-cross applesauce and she couldn’t sit criss-cross applesauce,” O'Brien said.

From that point, the family took her to urgent care for an X-ray. The doctors there told the family that Kyleigh’s symptoms resembled juvenile arthritis.

After her diagnoses the family searched for other families with children who had the disease. The family found out about the juvenile arthritis national convention, and the Walk to Cure Arthritis.

Kyleigh was couldn't manage the walk on her own, but, with the help of her siblings, she was able to finish it.

“Her brothers had her on their shoulders and carried her through the walk,” O'Brien said.

In addition to her lobbying, Kyleigh has a Facebook page - Kyleigh's Krusaders -  where people can learn about juvenile arthritis. She also has a website called “Making Lemonade out of Life's Lemons," where she highlights children like her who refuse to let their medical issues stop them from anything.

“Other kids appreciate the page so other people know what they’re going through,” Kyleigh said.

She said helping others is a huge passion for her, and she doesn’t intend to stop.

“Advocating is just, like, you help so many kids and you don’t want to stop because they need help. I just wanna help them,” Kyleigh said.

O'Brien said there is a lot of misinformation about children with arthritis.

“The biggest thing that we try to push is awareness that people are aware that kids gets arthritis too. It’s not your grandma’s arthritis that people think about. It's not like osteoarthritis. It has to be treated differently. It’s the immune system attacking the joints of their bodies,” O'Brien said.

Kyleigh said, in the future, she hopes she can be a part of the process to end this problem for children.

“Hopefully there will be some kind of cure, better medicine to help kids, like, stay better longer and, hopefully, I’ll be able to help them and help all the other kids with juvenile arthritis,” she said.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Deputies with the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office arrested a driver in California after finding methamphetamines in his car.... More >>
42 minutes ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:20:00 AM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A pharmaceutical company has plans to come to Columbia, but is seeking a Chapter 100 Bond from the... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 7:42:00 AM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Organizations and activists aimed at improving the poverty situation in the state will gather for the 2018 Missouri... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 7:24:00 AM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - After being inactive for nearly a year, the Missouri Board of Education is launching a search for... More >>
15 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 7:06:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, is changing the way she is fundraising after an ethics complaint and... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:17:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department is treating the double shooting on Wednesday afternoon as a murder-suicide. ... More >>
17 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:00:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Some people living in Columbia's southside neighborhoods say thieves, using creative technology, are stealing from cars. Haley... More >>
17 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 5:28:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - As Welcome Home marks the first anniversary of its new shelter, a once drug-addicted veteran is artfully finding... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 4:19:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
FULTON- After the State Auditor's report that more local money could go to domestic violence shelters, one survivor reiterated the... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 3:52:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Wednesday morning firefighters burned a simulated dorm room burn on the MU campus to show students how quickly... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 3:13:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY – Cole County ended its economic development contract with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. The... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:32:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
MEXICO - Sen. Claire McCaskill has announced she will oppose Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. McCaskill's... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:30:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A former prosecutor and chairman of Missouri's Democratic Party has been sentenced to two years and... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:55:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department ruled a Wednesday morning fire as suspicious. There were no injuries, but the... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - As rivers are still rising in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, donations are also flooding in. However,... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:01:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A Kansas City man has pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of another man at a trailer... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 12:51:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The search for Missouri's next top education official has begun. The State Board of Education... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 11:24:10 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
FULTON - UPDATE: Police have found the two boys who escaped from the Division of Youth Services. Police said... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 10:38:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 87°
11am 88°
12pm 91°
1pm 92°
2pm 93°