Scott Depot girl named honoree for Jingle Bell Run

November 15, 2018

Maggie Ballengee

Billed as a big event to benefit a little patient and others like her, the 2018 Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run 5K race and walk is set to step off at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in Charleston.

This year’s Jingle Bell Run Youth Honoree is Maggie Ballengee, 4, of Scott Depot.

Maggie was diagnosed with oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in October 2016.

She presented with a single swollen knee for one week, accompanied by a fever that was still present after the swelling reduced.

Having a few family members with rheumatoid arthritis, her parents, Travis and Crystal Ballengee, suspected this diagnosis in the back of their minds, but they were hesitant to mention it, assuming it was just an injury that would heal on its own.

After Maggie experienced two weeks of low-grade fever, irritability and sleeplessness, her parents decided to make a trip to the pediatrician, with thoughts of a possible ear infection or virus.

The doctor felt Maggie may have had a virus, and, as she was about to complete the visit, Travis and Crystal told the doctor about the week-long swollen knee, wondering if there was any relationship.

Following the examination of her knee, Maggie was sent for blood work and to a pediatric rheumatologist for further examination. During the ensuing weeks, before treatment started, Maggie rarely slept through the night, would crawl to her parents’ bedroom some mornings filled with tears and limped after sleeping or naps. There were a few episodes where, after a nap, she was in so much pain and discomfort that she could not stand on her legs at all.

The Ballengees had many tear-filled days, tantrums and hugs, because Maggie was just barely 2 years old and had trouble relaying her discomfort to them.

Maggie developed two more affected joints, but after the initial treatment, doctors were able to delay progression to other joints.

More than a year later now, Maggie has tried several treatment plans that were ineffective but did help to slow the disease activity and lower inflammation. Her family prays for remission and the strength to endure the unpredictability of this disease. Until then, they hope Maggie’s story will spread awareness about juvenile arthritis and help raise funds to find a cure.

More information about her team, Maggie’s Movers, and the Jingle Bell Run/Walk event is posted online at jbr.org/charlestonwv.

Donations are being accepted through Dec. 31.

The 2018 race and walk will start at the Columbia Pipeline Group Building, 1700 MacCorkle Ave. in Charleston.

Registration and a silent auction will begin at 8 a.m., with a Kids’ Fun Run starting at 8:30 a.m., a Dog Costume Contest at 8:45 a.m. and the 5K race and walk getting underway at 9 a.m.

An award ceremony and participant costume contest will begin at 10 a.m.

Register for the Jingle Bell Run or make a donation at www.jbr.org/charlestonwv.

Nearly 300,000 children - or one in 250 - in the United States has been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

“Everybody has good days and bad days when they are growing up. You don’t do well on a test. Someone is not nice to you. But sometimes kids with juvenile arthritis have really bad days - like can’t get out of bed - really painful type of days or, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ days - and there are concerns about swollen knees, fevers and fingers that hurt too much to hold a pencil,” Cathy Schrader of the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation said in a media release.

Juvenile Arthritis facts, educational resources and additional family stories can be found at Kids Get Arthritis Too.org.

For more information regarding the Jingle Bell Run and donation opportunities, as well as general inquiries, contact Schrader at 304-233-7364 or cschrader@arthritis.org or visit www.arthritis.org.

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