Colten and Landen Frodsham are typical brothers. They have spent countless hours teasing, fighting, laughing and playing. Even though less than two years separate them, they have very different interests and hobbies.
But they share a disease that afflicts one in 1,000 children. They both have arthritis.
There are 3,500 Oklahoma children living with juvenile arthritis, said Sherri O'Neil, regional vice president of the Arthritis Foundation/South Central Region. That is one reason the organization is featuring children as special honorees for this year's fundraising walk.
“Arthritis is a life-changing disease and can affect anyone at any age,” O'Neill said.
The Arthritis Walk is an Arthritis Foundation nationwide event that raises awareness and funds to fight the nation's leading cause of disability.
The Oklahoma City chapter's walk is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Frontier City, 11501 N Interstate 35 Service Road.
Colten, 9, and Landen, 7, along with Jase Sledd, 9, of Sulphur, and Rachel Howard, 17, of Oklahoma City, are the 2013 Faces of Arthritis for the walk.
The brothers met Jase last summer at Camp JAM, for Juvenile Arthritis and Me!, held every year at Camp Classen.
Behind the faces
Colten Frodsham — He is a second-grader at Dickson Elementary School near Ardmore. An outgoing boy who loves animals and reading, Colten was diagnosed with post-streptococcal arthritis at age 7. He began treatment at Shriners Hospital in Shreveport, La., and learned he is in remission during his most recent checkup.
Landen Frodsham — With a love of cars, tools and University of Oklahoma football, Landen is all boy and embraces first grade at Dickson Elementary with enthusiasm. At 5 years old, he was diagnosed with the same condition as his older brother. He spent three months in a wheelchair as doctors struggled to determine his exact condition. He was also declared in remission after treatments at Shriners Hospital.
While the brothers are in remission, there is always a chance arthritis will flare back up, said their mother, Kristina Frodsham.
“We were told they would definitely have it in their later adulthood even if it doesn't return before then,” she said. “We don't think their condition is genetic, although there could be some genetic variables that we are currently undergoing screening for.”
Jase Sledd — Jase has good days and bad days. His diagnosis came when he was 6 months old and doctors told his parents he had polyarticular juvenile arthritis in his wrist, fingers and right mid-foot and ankle.
“He cried day and night and did not like to be touched or moved,” said his mother, Robin Sledd. “His left arm wasn't able to straighten, and his right leg was totally bent and he couldn't straighten it.”
The diagnosis led the family down a path of treatments, medicines and hospitalization. Today, Jase loves to play flag football, baseball and basketball. He enjoys playing video games, watching weather reports on TV news, loves to be outside and enjoys swimming. He makes good grades as a second-grader at Sulphur Elementary School and loves to go to school, even on his bad days.
“We have struggled since he was a baby and he struggled, too, but he never gave up,” Robin Sledd said.
Rachel Howard — Rachel has polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which she says affects every joint in her body. She was diagnosed in 2010, about four months after awaking one night with joints that were red and swollen and painful beyond what she thought possible. When the pain flares up now, she still sometimes must use a wheelchair. But she says her good days outnumber the bad.
She plays the violin and is concertmaster of her high school orchestra. She loves animals, and she played soccer before arthritis forced her to stop. She says arthritis does hold her back in some ways, but she sees it as a challenge, not a limitation as she strives to make a difference in people's lives and make the world a better place.
Gina Stanley is with Carol Hartzog Communications.