On Saturday, APL and I went down to Denver to volunteer at the Arthritis Foundation's JA Family Day. For us, it was a little bit like a mini day of being at JA Camp - and while we had fun with the kids the parents got to attend seminars to learn about their kids' arthritis. I was also super excited to get to see some of the same kids from camp again.
We got to do crafts, play games, and go swimming with the kids. After lunch we hit rocket-shaped pinatas and then the kids got into teams and made their own rockets out of 2-liter soda bottles. When the parents were done with their seminars, everyone watched while the rockets blasted off into the air.
APL and I both had a lot of fun hanging out with the kids - the kids are all so wonderful and full of life. I especially loved watching APL interact with the kids, particularly with an adorable 4-year-old little boy who took a liking to APL while we were in the pool. And I was really glad to be able to help a 5-year-old girl, who was scared to be without her mom, forget all about her mom while having a ton of fun in the pool.
But I will admit that in some ways JA Family Day was more heart-wrenching for me than camp. Even though I knew that a lot of the kids at camp had been diagnosed with arthritis at a really young age, this was the first time I had ever interacted with really little kids who were already dealing with arthritis. The youngest child at JA Family Day was about to turn 3, and her dad told me that she had been diagnosed with arthritis just as she was learning how to walk. She was still so young, and full of smiles and happiness, so it was really hard to imagine her dealing with the pain of arthritis at an even younger age. And I can't even image what her parents must have gone through.
It seems so incredibly unfair that these amazing kids - and their parents and siblings - should have to deal with arthritis at such a young age. And it is hard to accept that they will have to deal with arthritis for the rest of their lives. I know there isn't anything I can do to take the arthritis away, but I am really glad that there is anything at all that APL and I can do to help these kids and their families - even if it is something so small. Especially since we had so much fun doing it!