Hundreds walk against a disease that affects 1 in 4 Nebraskans

By: Kayla Bremer

One out of four Nebraskans live with arthritis and as many of the people who walked to help raise awareness know, the disease doesn't discriminate against age.

8–year–old Zoe Newman cut the ribbon to kick off the 6th annual Lincoln Arthritis Walk.  As the honoree of this year's event, she knows living with arthritis all too well.

“It's been painful and kind of hard for me,” Zoe said.

She says she remembers the stiff and painful feeling in her legs before she was diagnosed at just two years old.

“When you get it, it's really surprising and you figure out like you're really stiff probably like something in your body is really stiff…you can't move it kind of, that's what it's like.”

Zoe was joined by dozens of family and friends sporting “Team Zoe” t–shirts there to support her and walk to help find a cure.

Her mom Jackie says it's been a tough ride since her daughter was diagnosed, but it's brought them close to others going through the same thing.

“For the first time we've gotten to meet other kids and other parents of kids with arthritis and it's been eye opening for us,” Jackie said.

The debilitating disease affects 26 percent of Nebraskans, 2/3 of those under the age of 65.

This year's goal for the Arthritis Walk was to raise $45,000.  Organizers say the money will go to arthritis research, education and life improvement programs.

“We obviously support a lot of research at the national level but a lot of what we raise here, stays here for our programs,”  Carey Collingham, Marketing Director for the Arthritis Foundation said.

For Zoe, she was all smiles and soaking up her day of being this year's honoree.

“It's really exciting and such a big deal for me.  I never usually get to do something like this.”

Zoe says she's not going to let arthritis slow her down.  Her dream is to become a professional surfer.  She'll get to surf for the first time in California this summer.