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The International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement!!

Posted Jan 09 2010 12:00am
Today is the official day to donate a dollar to change your life!!!

The IAAM is collecting $1 donations to become a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of the autoimmune arthritis survivors through education and awareness, and lifestyle. Today a bunch of blogs are writing stories about their experiences to raise awareness. Scroll down to find the link to donate! Here's a story that I wrote a year ago after a bad experience at a bar, but it's so perfect for this post:

I'll preface this story by saying that I normally tell people without hesitation that I have arthritis. I don’t think twice about it. It really isn’t that big of a deal to me and I’m kind of like, I have arthritis, so what? I didn’t choose it and it sucks, what are you gonna do about it? Anyway, I think that if more people were open about having arthritis, I wouldn’t have had this reaction:

I’m visiting my friends at school this weekend and last night I went out with my old roommates to see a band play that they knew from high school. While we were sitting at the bar a guy came up to me and started talking to me like we knew each other. Apparently, I had met him maybe a year ago at a party or something… but I had absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever. It was pretty awkward. I am so terrible with remembering people and especially their names. Anyway, the guy…is it terrible that I still don’t remember his name after last night?!…started asking me how my semester was going. Now, I know that he didn’t know that I was taking the semester off from school and living at home, so I could have easily said something like “It’s good, how about yours?” But noooooo, I had to tell him that I was taking the semester off from school and living at home. And then, when he asked me why, I had to go and tell him that I was taking the semester off for “health reasons” . He was a complete stranger. I shouldn’t talk to strangers! I shouldn’t have even said anything!

He kind of looked confused when I said “health reasons,” so I decided to explain myself by saying I have arthritis. I didn't want him to think I was dying. And do you know what that no good-backwards-baseball hat-wearing butt hole did? He laughed! He didn’t just laugh and then awkwardly stop and say, Oh, I’m so sorry that must be terrible. Nope. He actually continued to laugh for about 30 seconds while I sat there and looked at him. Well, about halfway through his laughing fit I had time to turn back to the bar and have a sip of my drink and turn back around. I have a response prepared for people who don’t take me seriously when I say I have arthritis. It goes something like this, “It’s called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis…I got it when I was in 6th grade.” Usually that puts people in their place if there was any question at all to my seriousness, but this guy…this immature ass… said “What…so do they like put the arthritis in jail…like juvie?” Hilarious. No, actually it was. I laughed. Then I got up and walked away.

Now I am going to tell as many people as I can that I have arthritis. Watch out world who doesn’t think people under the age of 60 get arthritis.

Message from the IAAM:

What if autoimmune arthritis conditions were universally understood, so you never again would hear, “well you’re too young to have that” or “why don’t you take some aspirin to make the pain go away” or “but you don’t look sick”? Wouldn’t it be nice if people understood that “I’m too tired to go” meant you were experiencing obnoxious, debilitating fatigue that is not necessarily remedied from rest or a good night sleep? What if there were in-depth, age-appropriate exercise programs in place that catered to different levels of disability and fitness preferences? How much better could your health be if there were partnerships with retailers who would offer discounts on healthy foods or fitness facilities that would minimize monthly payments for autoimmune arthritis patients? What if there were a global database of sufferers, family members and caregivers who had the ability to form friendships in order to deal with the daily struggles of disability? Hopefully beginning in 2010 these wishes will start to become a reality.

The “Buckle Me Up!” International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) is an up-and-coming, worldwide nonprofit which will focus exclusively on helping the autoimmune arthritis sufferer*. Their mission: committed to eliminating autoimmune arthritis, and diminishing the disability associated with it, by raising global awareness and improving the quality of life through education, partnerships and support. It is a nonprofit formed by autoimmune arthritis sufferers, run by autoimmune arthritis sufferers and, therefore, will continue to address the problems faced by autoimmune arthritis sufferers.

They are not in competition with any existing charity. Matter-in-fact, part of the mission is to partner with current organizations to assist with existing autoimmune arthritis awareness efforts. Recently they have joined forces with the Arthritis Foundation and are working on partnering with other arthritis-based charities both nationally and internationally. Founder, Tiffany Westrich, is personally working with the Arthritis Foundations “Let’s Talk RA” program to restructure the 2010 strategic planning, in which IAAM will maintain an intricate role. In addition to partnerships, a primary focus is to make a lot of noise, verbally and visually, by re-branding the misconceptions of the term “arthritis”. Examples include the published web-commercial series, “A Day with RA”, showing the realities of living with an autoimmune arthritis disease, developing the first official autoimmune arthritis charity bracelets, and being featured on and WebMDtv’s “RA in the News” (Summer 2009). They hope to continue this level of exposure in all autoimmune arthritis arenas, including creating web-series awareness commercials for each autoimmune arthritis condition.

If all the autoimmune arthritis sufferers around the world come together, we can make this a reality. But first, we must raise money to finance the legal fees and start up costs to become an official nonprofit. So, today, many autoimmune arthritis blogs are joining forces to reach out to our community of sufferers for help. Just like you may see while checking out at grocery stores and other retail establishments, the IAAM is asking for $1 donations to assist with these start up costs. Every dollar earned will bring us all one step closer to being understood.

To view a complete list of start up costs and to send your $1 donation, please visit

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Ghandi

*Currently, we have found the following conditions officially classified as Autoimmune Arthritis.
o Rheumatoid Arthritis
o Juvenile Arthritis
o Psoriatic Arthritis
o Reactive Arthritis
o Ankylosing Spondylitis
o Scleroderma
o Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
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