Story By: Aria Morgan, Picture Keeper user from Atlanta, GA
”My favorite photo is a picture of me, my mom, and my sister when we crossed the finish line of the Disney Jingle Jungle 5K and are “Standing Tall,” which symbolizes so much more than just finishing the race
My mom was diagnosed with a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis 10 years ago. You’re probably thinking anky-spondyl-HUH? Which is exactly what we thought. This disease is an autoimmune disease in the Arthritis family. Basically, it attacks all your bones and joints and slowly fuses your spine into an immobile position. It’s very painful and consists of weekly doctor visits, progress reports, medications and surgeries. There’s no cure and no medicines that are proven to help this disease. The doctors do know that it is hereditary, but they don’t know why it stays dormant in some people, why other people get it, and what exactly triggers you to have it. Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen my mom go from someone who was a beast in spin class to struggling to stand up. The disease is so rare and uncommon so there’s not much knowledge or research on it. But what my Mom proves every single day is that the disease may have her body, but not her. The motto of this disease is “Stand Tall,” and that’s just what we did against this disease for the Disney Jingle Jungle 5K.
My family loves Disney and loves Christmas, so when my mom saw that there was a Disney Jingle Jungle 5K, she set her mind to it that she was going to walk the entire 5K with me and my sister while raising awareness for Ankylosing Spondylitis. We started a fundraiser to raise $5,000 for our 5K where all proceeds went directly to the Ankylosing Spondylitis Association and in just a few months, we raised over $5000 just from sharing across social media!
It was time for race day, we wore “Stand Tall” bracelets and the color blue to represent the disease’s ribbon color (tu-tu’s were required!). We passed out bracelets to other participants in the race along the way. Like a champ, through sweat and pain, my mom finished the entire 5K. There were times where we had to help her along, but together we crossed the finish line.
It was very emotional crossing the finish line as it symbolized us accomplishing this goal and finishing the race, but that also, my mom’s battle against her disease is a constant race for her. She will be battling with this forever. So, looking at this picture makes me always think of my mom’s strength and determination and to remember to “Stand Tall” daily to whatever life throws my way.”
Thank you for joining us on Aria’s journey as she encourages and fights for her Mom. It takes courage to speak out on something personal to you in order to raise awareness for others. Even though her mom is battling Ankylosing Spondylitis, Aria shows strength and positivity along the way. We would love to hear your story! Remember to push forward and stay positive, and hold on to the memories that mean the most to you.