Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk

The fourth annual Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk will take place at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 26 at Kleiner Park in Meridian.

Courtesy of the Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk

Editor's note: This original version of this story contained an incorrect number for expected attendance.

When Tony Holladay was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 62, he wasn’t sure where to turn for support.

That was over 10 years ago, and Holladay said he couldn’t find any support groups.

“So I decided to step up,” he said.

Holladay founded the Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk, now in its fourth year. He brought on the support of the Idaho Arthritis Center, where he is a patient, and St. Luke’s Rheumatology.

The walk, set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 26 at Kleiner Park in Meridian, connects people of all ages who have arthritis and rheumatology conditions and points them to resources and support groups. Participants have the option to run or walk a 5K or 1K. The registration fee is $10.

Along with building awareness about arthritis and treatments, the walk raises money for research and local causes. Last year, the money was used to buy warm clothing for children after Holladay noticed young patients at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center who had holes in their shoes and lacked warm winter clothing, such as gloves, coats and even socks.

This year, the money will cover the expense of sending 14 children to Camp Koda in Utah. The camp gives children with arthritis an opportunity to bond with each other and see that they’re not alone, Holladay said. It offers a range of outdoor activities for campers who have limited use of their hands.

People often associate arthritis with older adults, but there are actually a lot of children who have it too, Holladay said.

For Holladay, rheumatoid arthritis feels like body aches from the flu, but magnified six times over.

“I couldn’t hold my wife’s hands because my hands hurt so bad,” he said.

Early on, he avoided going out in public, not wanting to have to ask for help or face the painful prospect of shaking someone’s hand.

“After being diagnosed, I actually went home and cried because I didn’t want to be a burden to my wife or my family,” Holladay said. “And after crying for about 10 to 15 minutes, I stood up ... and said, ‘Let’s move on and accept what I have.’”

Holladay formed a walking group and got involved in helping other patients. Walking and moving is crucial for patients so they don’t lose their mobility, he said.

Eventually Holladay launched the Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk, which draws in 200 to 300 people each year.

“Getting the walk going, it’s reached out to other people and let other people know that there’s support out there for them,” Holladay said.

DETAILS

  • What: Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk, a 5K or 1K run/walk
  • When: 9:30 a.m. Aug. 26. Registration: 8-9 a.m.
  • Where: Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, 1900 N. Records Ave., next to The Village at Meridian
  • Registration fee: $10 per participant. Includes a free T-shirt while supplies last.

Register and learn more at idahoarthritiswalk.com or visit the Idaho Arthritis Awareness Walk page on Facebook.

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