I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to accept and “embrace” my situation-a decision that has also led me on a path of advocacy. In fact, I was Ms. Wheelchair NJ a couple years ago, which allowed me to share my message with a broader audience.
Lately, I have become even more limited by the disease and my body is not responding well to available medications. However, this only drives me to want to get the word out about juvenile arthritis even more. I know there is a still a lot of ground to cover as I meet people on a weekly basis that have no idea children can get the disease.
Since I do not want others to experience the pain that I have had throughout my life, I am excited with the power that my book can have to change someone’s life.
I have heard from people featured in the book and who have read it that they wish there was a book like this around when they were young. I can remember throwing away all of my arthritis books, just not wanting to know about my disease. That is not the response that I think kids and families will have with my book. They will meet other kids, teens and adults with JRA and know that there is hope and there is a way to lead a normal life.
Please join me on my path to awareness, education and hopefully a cure for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Feel free to share with me your stories or questions. I'd love to hear from you!
About Kelly Rouba
Kelly Rouba is an accomplished journalist and public speaker, starting her journalism career at age 19 when she took a position as a stringer for Trenton Times while still in college. Among her various publications, Ms. Rouba also writes for thisabled.com and mobilewomen.org, and serves as a member of mobilewomen's Advisory Committee.
Ms. Rouba works full-time with EAD & Associates, an emergency management firm specializing in special needs populations. She is also a DAE/Special Needs Specialist with the Dept. of Homeland Security/FEMA Region II.
She a member of Hamilton Township's Advisory Commission on the Status of Women and Project Freedom's Board of Trustees. In 2007, she served on the planning committee for the NJ Governor's Conference on Employment for People with Disabilities and was chair of the public relations sub-committee--a role she has recently resumed. She also served as emcee and a panelist at the conference.
Ms. Rouba held the title of Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey from December 2006-February 2008 and even served as state program coordinator until recently.
She has been featured in numerous print and online publications. She was also interviewed on WZBN News, ABC's television show Perspective New Jersey, and Disaboom Radio; she was also introduced on Live With Regis & Kelly. Presently, she is being filmed by Agency New Jersey for a documentary on juvenile arthritis.