0612 Delaney CasslemanMLES third grader Delaney Cassleman.
Mt Laurel Elementary third grader Delaney Cassleman traveled to Washington, D.C., in April to share an important message with legislators. Delaney, who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was just two years old, joined other students to share their stories and bring awareness to the disease.
“She just woke up one morning and could not walk,” said Delaney’s mother, Jennifer. “The diagnosis itself was enough of a shock, as we thought arthritis was an older person’s disease. We quickly realized we were not alone in that myth, and that we needed to speak out for Delaney and other kids.”
For the Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy Summit, she joined hundreds of other children, adults and entire families who converged on the halls of Congress to share their stories and ask Congress to give more attention to arthritis.
At such a young age, Delaney understands that sharing her story leads to more attention, that more attention leads to more research, and that more research can lead to better treatments and maybe even one day a cure.
“We would never have chosen for our daughter to have this disease,” said Jennifer. “But we are teaching her to make the best of it, and that sharing her experiences can change the lives of other children too.”