KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States.
The Arthritis Foundation says about 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and almost 300,000 babies and children have some form of it.
One of those kids is 4-year-old Mickey Bernier of Knoxville.
Watching Mickey play catch with his dad, you’d never guess he has Juvenile Arthritis.
This sweet little boy is always on the go, outdoors and inside, in the playroom he shares with his little sister, proudly showing us some of his favorite toys.
Mickey was diagnosed two years ago after he started showing some worrisome symptoms, too young to let Mom and Dad know where it hurt.
“He started limping when he was 22 months old,” mom Jeanne Bernier told us. “He started limping and favoring that leg, but he really couldn’t tell us what was going on.”
Mickey’s dad, Mike Bernier said, “All I want to do is make him feel better and I saw it was kind of out of my hands at times.”
When MIckey developed swelling in his right knee, his parents feared the worst.
“We were so terrified of the possibility-we were thinking-in my head, I was thinking cancer,” Jeanne said.
As it turns out, Mickey is one lucky little boy.
After his Juvenile Arthritis diagnosis, he’s had one treatment. So far, so good.
“They injected it (his knee) with a steroid and after about a week, he was fine. It worked, and that’s not typical. So we’re really fortunate. He hasn’t had symptoms since but they can’t yet say he’s in remission,” Jeanne said.
Mickey still must see his pediatric rheumatologist every six months, and get his eyes checked as well, since arthritis can lead to glaucoma.
Mickey is taking it in stride, old enough now to know what’s going on.
We asked where his knee hurt before, and he showed us, and we asked if it hurt back then, and he said, “yeah.”
We asked him if it was better now and Mickey nodded.
Mickey Bernier is the Arthritis Foundation’s Toddler Honoree this year, so he’s learning a big lesson about giving back.
He and his family have been busy raising funds for arthritis research and programs through the Jingle Bell Run, which is on December 14th at World’s Fair Park.
There is still time to register: just go to events.arthritis.org for more information.