KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In 2019, we first met the Arthritis Foundation’s toddler honoree Mickey Bernier at the Jingle Bell Run, which raises funds for arthritis research and programs. We’re getting ready for this year’s run coming up in December by checking back in with Mickey.
Mickey was 4 years old when when we first met him, playing catch in the backyard with his dad. They did it for father-son time, but also to keep Mickey active after a diagnosis of Juvenile Arthritis when he was only 22 months old.
Mickey had started limping , then his right knee became swollen, which led to a stay at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
“It could have been a symptom of a viral infection that would pass. Well, it didn’t pass. The limping persisted. And then we went for x-rays to rule out bone infections and things like that,” Jeanne Bernier, Mickey’s mom, said
Mickey doesn’t remember much about that time, except for one moment he can smile about today:
“Well I remember when they put a little needle in my arm … It…I just started crying really hard. And I tried, I tried to mess with it, so they had to put a diaper on my hand,” Mickey said.
Mickey is now 8 years old and still enjoys not only tossing a football like he did when he was just a toddler but playing all kinds of sports with no signs or symptoms of arthritis.
“He could have a flare up at any time, but right now he’s just happy and healthy and can do everything.” Jeanne said.
“Well, in all of the games, it makes me proud, for example, when I’m playing baseball, it makes me really proud to hit it and run around the bases,” said Mickey
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Mickey and his mom continue to share his story for arthritis awareness leading up to the Jingle Bell Run. They have met with sorority AOII at the University of Tennessee through the years and just this week to thank them for their continued support.
AOII’s philanthropy is the Arthritis Foundation.
For more information on this year’s Jingle Bell Run December 9th at World’s Fair Park, visit https://events.arthritis.org