As told by Kids Get Arthritis Too
Diagnosed with JRA at age 14, Jordan endured daily pain along with a tough medication regimen. He could easily have become the stereotypical self-involved teen, but not Jordan. Instead, Jordan, 18, dedicated himself to helping others.
That’s why Jordan was honored at the 2009 Juvenile Arthritis Conference with the Dawn Hafeli Award for Youth Leadership.
Jordan became heavily involved with the Foundation by volunteering at Camp Dakota, a weeklong summer camp for children with arthritis and their siblings. He brought fresh ideas to increase the camp’s value and reach by suggesting a counselor-in-training (CIT) program. The goal: to keep kids ages 13 to 15 interested in the camp experience as they enter the tricky transition years between being a child and an adult with arthritis. As CITs, teens can help other kids at camp while learning how to mentor and assume leadership roles.
Once he became involved with the Arthritis Foundation through camp, Jordan began answering other calls to action. Soon he was giving his energy and time to raise awareness and funds to benefit children with arthritis through the Arthritis Walk. Together, he and his family raised nearly $14,000 for the 2008 Walk.
But it’s not just the Arthritis Foundation that recognizes Jordan’s service to others. At his high school graduation in June 2009, he was recognized for his leadership abilities on and off the football field. Captain of his varsity football team, Jordan was praised for his part in creating a student mentor program to welcome new students to life after middle school.
“These mentors would make sure the students had a companion at lunch and [were] invited to after-school activities,” Jordan says. “That way, they feel part of the crowd.”
The program was so successful that a second group promoting self-awareness was formed. Jordan participated on discussion panels about alcohol, drug use, bullying and self-esteem for the group.
When asked what led him to devote so much of his time to the arthritis community Jordan says, “I remember when I was about 14 and I had gone to the hospital for an appointment, I saw little girl, she had to be about 3 or 4 years old, and she was in such pain. Her parents had to lift her and the tears were streaming down her face. I knew I had to help.”
Copyright 2010, Arthritis Foundation. Adapted with permission from Kids Get Arthritis Too, 2009.