BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts whose mission is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.
Mike Katzman knew something was wrong after going on a long bike ride when he was about nine years old.
“Shortly after, I was feeling pain in my knees, my hips….At first you just naturally think its connected with the exercise that you just did. But then it didn’t go away. And the pain persisted,” said Katzman.
After multiple doctors’ visits, Katzman was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and put on meds to help manage the disease. But he still had flare ups and loss of mobility. At age 32, he underwent double hip replacement surgery. Katzman has served as chairman of the Foundation’s local leadership board, a position he finds extremely rewarding.
“Seeing kids who are taking advantage of the educational opportunities, the social opportunities. When you sit down and talk to one of the children who have had this disease and hear their stories and how they’re helped by the Arthritis Foundation, and what they provide, is just very rewarding to be able to give that back,” Katzman said.
Another volunteer, Kelby Peachey, is national chair of the “Walk to Cure Arthritis.” She was diagnosed with an auto immune form of the disease at age sixteen.
“Went from being an active teenage to in a wheelchair. I lost 20 pounds in a week. My ankle swelled to the size of a baseball. There were times when I couldn’t lift my hands and my arms up above my head,” stated Peachey.
Peachey is also managing the disease with medication. She hasn’t let it slow her down.
“I run 10K’s, I do obstacle course races, I lift weights. I was able to not only go to college but graduate from college with high honors. Now hold down several stable jobs and actually be able to volunteer for The Arthritis Foundation. And having the energy to live my life,” said Peachey.
Peachey says it’s the kids she meets that make all of the hours volunteering worthwhile.
“Hugs that I get from the kids who have arthritis as well on walk day, that’s one of the reasons why I do it. Seeing them and seeing their faces and seeing that their lives are so much better than where mine was even 20 years ago and knowing I am having an impact on that keeps me going,” Peachey concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports