Local boy one of unlucky few hit by grown-up pain
Arthritis isn’t just a problem for grown-ups, and a kind-hearted Okanagan Falls boy is painful, living proof.
Sebastian Sundquist, 11, was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was just four. The disease is an immune-system disorder that causes it to attack tissue in his knees that it thinks is a foreign body. The result is painful swelling and inflammation that can make it difficult to walk for days or weeks at a time.
“It isn’t always pain - sometimes it’s just a really uncomfortable feeling - but the pain is just dull and goes on for a long time,” Sundquist said.
Now that Childhood Arthritis Awareness Month has arrived, he has set out again to raise money to fund research into better treatments and possibly a cure.
Last year, Sundquist raised $300 for the B.C.-Yukon branch of the Arthritis Society and hopes to raise $600 this year, half of which he’ll donate to his school in Okanagan Falls.
“I’m planning on doubling my goal every year, but it will get harder once I’m in Grade 7,” said Sundquist, who’s now in Grade 5.
Last year’s fundraising consisted mainly of a penny drive. This year, he’s already held a bake sale at school, set up a donation jar at Dogtown Coffee Co. in Okanagan Falls, and will collect pledges ahead of his participation at the Walk to Fight Arthritis in Kelowna in May.
Sebastian’s mom, Stephanie, said her son’s condition has had a huge impact on her family, including where they live and work.
They moved from Kamloops to the Okanagan to be nearer a medical specialist in Penticton, and also bought a house that has a main floor with bedrooms, but no stairs, which are sometimes difficult for her son to negotiate.
Still, she says the fundraising efforts, including preparing all the goodies for the bake sale, have been her son’s own doing.
“I’ve just done my best to support him because he’s really taken the lead in everything,” she said.
According to the Arthritis Society, the condition afflicts one in every 1,000 kids under the age of 16. Donations to Sundquist’s fundraising drive can also be made online through www. arthritis.ca