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2017 RPF Scholarship Winners

September 30, 2017 in Exciting, RPF News

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is pleased to announce this year's scholarship winners! We received many well-written essays and applications, but have chosen four winners to each receive a $1,000 scholarship to use toward their higher education. Thanks to all who took the time to apply -- we wish you all the best of luck in your educational and vocational pursuits. Also, a special thanks to this year's scholarship sponsor: Crescendo Bioscience!

2017 Scholarship Winners:

Ellis Hamabuchi (Fort Lee, NJ)

At eight years old, I was a ballet dancer, black belt in karate, violin player, swimmer, gymnast, and basketball player. At age nine, I was just an arthritic. Today, I am eighteen years old, and I am still an arthritic, but I am also an entrepreneur, leader, and advocate for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!








Carley Jones (Lodi, CA)

I am 24 years old in my first year of veterinary school where I hope to develop a career in shelter medicine and wildlife research. I was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 12, but have been fortunately in remission for the last few years. In my free-time I enjoy snorkeling, yoga, and hiking with my 5 year old Catahoula Hound, Rueski.







Claire Kennedy (Bozeman, MT)

"The quieter you become, the more you can hear."--Anonymous
I am a third year college student pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Community Health. My main focus with this degree is to bring awareness and support to the chronic disease community. I have watched my mother struggle with Rheumatoid arthritis for as long as I can remember, and it has propelled me into this healthcare field. Thank you to the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation for this opportunity, and for providing hope to those afflicted by this condition.








Rachel Sauls (Chapel Hill, NC)

Rachel Sauls is a sophomore transfer student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her major is Global Studies, with a focus in Global Health, and her minors are Literature, Medicine, & Culture and Medical Anthropology. Rachel has been living with rheumatoid disease since the age of eleven, and is passionate about increasing accessibility, promoting empathy, and making space for health narratives. She hopes to work with children and teenagers with chronic illnesses in the future as a social worker, hospital chaplain, or professional advocate.

Skydive Fundraiser Success & Follow-Up Interview

September 17, 2017 in Events, Exciting, Fundraiser, Interviews, Patient Input

As you may recall, Rheumatoid Patient Foundation member, Anja Gilmour, set out to do a charity skydive benefitting RPF earlier this year. Through her fundraising efforts, she was able to raise over $2,600 for RPF! Way to go, Anja! The skydive took place in England in August, and you can view a video of her jump below. After the fundraiser was over, we wanted to do a follow-up interview with Anja to hear more about her experience in organizing a fundraiser, and as a way to offer some encouragement and advice for anyone else who is interested in setting up their own fundraising event. Check out Anja's skydive video and interview below!

First, tell us about your experience of doing another skydive -- but this time at 15,000 feet. Was it scary? Fun? Both?

I guess you could say a little of both. But, as I had done this last year (though at 10,000 feet), I knew what to expect so I was probably more excited. I was also really excited about not only having my instructor recording the experience via his wrist cam, but having a photographer jump out with us to take footage from another vantage point. Free falling at 125mph and having another person (the photographer) come so close to you that you could touch him was amazing! I do remember, though, that when the plane kept climbing and climbing before it was time to exit, I was thinking "okay, I think we must be at 15,000 feet already!" It's a long way up! Another special experience on that day was that there were many clouds so far below us that it definitely gave me a different and even more beautiful perspective during the free fall. The company I jump with in the UK, GoSkydive, made this experience so wonderful for me as they did last year. They are very professional, supportive of people who are jumping for a cause and are fantastic in making you feel safe, secure and confident. The same instructors and personnel were there as last year which is a sign that they must be doing something right and you can definitely see that on the faces of people who had just done a jump!

What were some of the challenges you faced in running a fundraiser?

Well, when you work full time, are having periodic problems coping with your RD, and are trying to be successful at a fundraiser, it can be challenging. I worked very hard for this fundraiser but can honestly say, I would do it again without hesitation! Though I'm average at using the computer (but primarily for my bookkeeping business), I had to learn more about social media, how to do a website, etc., and find different ways to keep people interested and engaged. Another challenge was fundraising for two different charities in two different countries, though both having the same goal for Rheumatoid Disease issues. I ran into many roadblocks trying to use the usual fundraising tools such as JustFundMe, GlobalGiving, GoFundMe, Crowdfunding, etc., as I could not get any of them to work with me in having two different entities in two countries. It was quite frustrating. So because of this, I ended up directing individuals who wanted to donate to each charity's donating page, and found that many people had a hard time navigating this via internet, which is something you don't want a potential contributor to have a problem with.

What was the most fun part about doing a fundraiser?

Getting to know you, learn more about RPF, the people of the UK organization, NRAS, and being so excited that I found both organizations to fundraise for, and to see that there are a lot of people trying to get more awareness out there about this very misunderstood disease. It was also a "buzz" for me to hear when someone wanted to contribute (or did contribute) to a cause that is so important to me. Also, if I can be selfish here, doing the actual skydive was such a thrill for me! There was a brief moment during my free fall that I thought "Wow, I'm doing this for my fundraiser and how wonderful!" I am really hooked on skydiving now, though my husband thinks I need therapy! But, as one of my friends so correctly said the other day, "no, I think skydiving IS your therapy!" I am already making plans for my next jump in 2018.

What kinds of reactions did you get from people when you told them you were going to do a skydive to bring awareness to rheumatoid disease?

The reactions were all positive. I do have to say my rheumatologist and spinal surgeon think I'm nuts (I'll have had a spinal fusion after this blog is posted!), though both approved me doing the jump. My family and friends were very excited that I was going to do this and were proud of me and let me know that doing it for a cause I cared about and that affects me greatly was truly a wonderful thing. I didn't get one negative comment and felt very fortunate for all the support. My biggest supporter was my husband, Alastair. He never complained once how much time I spent on the fundraiser and was such an emotional strength to me during times of difficulties, whether there were problems with some of the fundraising aspects that I spoke to him about, or having issues with dealing with my RD, but most importantly, supporting me in my love for skydiving.

What unique experiences and opportunities did you come across as a result of doing this fundraiser?

Oh my goodness, there were so many. First and foremost, I think that this fundraiser actually benefited me more than anything else. It got me in contact with people who also suffer from this disease and helped me feel that I was not alone in dealing with it. Though I have tremendous support from friends, family and my doctors, if you don't have RD that's been pretty aggressive and hard to manage such as mine, you really can't understand the daily challenges. As your new campaign of billboards is going up around the country, it is true what they say on them: RD is "An Invisible Disease". We who suffer from this disease may "appear" to be just fine at times when we really aren't. And, I think that many of us have learned how to "hide" our symptoms, which actually we shouldn't do. Through this fundraiser I have finally learned not to "pretend" I'm okay when someone asks, "how are you doing today?" If my day is bad, I'll now say, "I'm not doing so RD is acting up terribly". And now when I say that, I don't feel guilty anymore. It's actually been liberating and nothing to be ashamed of.

What would you change in your strategy or process if you did another fundraiser in the future?

That is probably one of the hardest questions! I really don't know what I'd do differently. I tried very hard to get local media involved, UK media involved and it proved to be very unsuccessful. And this was a disappointment. Though, saying that, I currently have a local health show news person that is very interested in this story and would like to do a segment! Maybe one thing I would change would be to have more people helping me as I did this all on my own, and that was quite exhausting. But, I feel I did the job I set out to do and am pleased with the results.

What advice would you give to someone else who is interested in organizing a fundraiser?

Make sure you are doing a fundraiser for a cause you truly believe in, because people will see your passion and desire to do something good. Make sure to go into it 150% and nothing less. I think passion is the key word here. You must be passionate about fundraising for a cause. And you must do something along with the fundraising that you thoroughly enjoy to get people interested and for you to enjoy along the way, e.g., me skydiving.

Thank you, Anja, for all your hard work in bringing rheumatoid disease awareness to new heights! If YOU are interested in starting your own fundraising event, please contact us!

Billboard Public Service Announcements for Rheumatoid Disease

May 18, 2017 in Exciting, RPF News

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is excited to announce the launch of a billboard campaign through Lamar Advertising, featuring public service announcements (PSAs) for Rheumatoid Disease.  By running these as a PSA, Lamar donates the billboard space to us, so RPF only has to pay the printing costs for each billboard.  We will be starting with two billboard designs -- one in Orlando and one in Chicago.  The specific location of the advertisement will vary throughout the year depending on when and where Lamar has open space in each of those markets to run a PSA.  This means, if you live in the Chicago or Orlando areas, you may see our ads in multiple locations throughout the course of the year! Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on where you can find the billboards.

Our initial campaign will feature one ad with messaging that brings awareness to the fact that Rheumatoid Disease is not "just arthritis," and another ad focused on the invisible nature of this disease.  Check out the previews of our designs below!

Rheumatoid Arthritis billboard advertisement PSA

Rheumatoid Arthritis Billboard advertisement PSA Invisible Illness

We want to give a big shout out to Barbara at Lamar who helped us set up this program, and also to the RD patients who donated the photography that we used in these ads.  Want to see your face on a billboard? Donate a photo, and you could be next!

2017 RPF Scholarship Program

March 17, 2017 in Exciting, RPF News

graduation for sidebar The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) is pleased to announce its third annual Scholarship Program supporting students whose lives have been affected by rheumatoid disease (RD). Offering support to people with rheumatoid disease is one of RPF's core goals, and we seek to do that through this scholarship program by providing financial assistance to people with RD.

This year, we are doubling the opportunity and will be awarding four scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each. The scholarship is open to U.S. students of any age who have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis -- or who have a parent with such a diagnosis. The scholarship funds may be used toward any higher education or vocational institution. This means that the scholarship is not only available to high school seniors and current college students, but also to those looking to change careers or advance their education.

Applicants are required to submit a written response to an essay prompt, along with a completed application form. All submissions must be received by May 31, 2017. Winners will be announced this summer. More details about the scholarship program and a downloadable application form can be found on our Scholarship Program Page.

View Scholarship Details & Download Application

Click here to read about last year's scholarship winners!


This year's scholarship program is made possible through a corporate sponsorship from Crescendo Bioscience.
Crescendo Bioscience focuses on enabling more effective management of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases by providing quantitative, objective molecular tests (such as Vectra® DA) and disease information services to rheumatologists and patients. Vectra® DA is the only multi-biomarker blood test for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity.

Rheumatoid Awareness Day 2017: Proclaiming Awareness

February 1, 2017 in Advocacy, Events, Exciting, Important

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day February 2nd

Today marks the 5th annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day as established by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation in 2013, giving people with the chronic illness known as rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatoid disease, a day of recognition. Because the disease is commonly presumed to be a type of arthritis, awareness is lacking, causing problems with disability accommodations, clinical care, healthcare reimbursement and research funding.

RPF has put together a list of ways that you can get involved, in addition to a myriad of awareness images you can find on our website or on Facebook, that are perfect for sharing and educating others through social media. This year, however, we have a big way that we can all work together to make a difference and help bring rheumatoid disease out of the shadows.

Proclaiming Awareness: Petition for a National Proclamation for Rheumatoid Awareness Day

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation has started a petition to get a national proclamation for Rheumatoid Awareness Day. Several of our volunteers have already gotten proclamations made from their cities and localities. This year, we are petitioning to have February 2nd proclaimed as Rheumatoid Awareness Day at the federal level. Add your voice! Click below to read and sign the petition.

Add Your Voice - Sign the Petition

In addition to signing the petition, we are also asking people to write a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, encouraging him to get the President's attention on this matter. Vice President Pence has a relative with rheumatoid disease, and has himself participated in a fundraising event for the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation back in 2013. Due to this personal connection, we will be asking Vice President Pence to help push through our petition for a national proclamation. If you'd like to send him a letter yourself, we've created a sample letter that you can work from. Click here to view the sample and click below to send Vice President Pence a letter asking him to support the national proclamation for Rheumatoid Awareness Day.

E-mail Vice President Pence

Bring Rheumatoid Disease Out of the Shadows

Help us bring rheumatoid disease out of the shadows. Here are some other ways that you can help get the attention of the White House and encourage others to get involved:

    • Write a physical letter to the President and/or Vice President
    • Call the President: You can leave comments at 202-456-1111 or reach the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414.
    • Tweet a note to Mike Pence (@VP) or Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump or @POTUS) - encouraging them to support the petition and proclamation for Rheumatoid Awareness Day
    • Share the petition with those you know via email or social media


Together, we can work to bring rheumatoid disease out of the shadows and into the spotlight for greater awareness and understanding. Together, we can do more.

RPF Scholarship Award Recipients

June 2, 2016 in Exciting, RPF News

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation has completed its second year offering the RPF Scholarship Program. This program offers students who have rheumatoid disease or who have a parent with rheumatoid disease the opportunity to get some financial assistance as they pursue higher education. This year's program offered up two $1,000 scholarship awards. We had an overwhelming response with more than double the number of applicants this year as last -- which underscores the need for this sort of program. The scholarship program required applicants to submit a written response to several essay prompts. We had many excellent submissions and would like to say thank you to all who took the time to apply for this scholarship program. We wish you all the very best in your higher education and vocational pursuits.

Our judging panel has selected this year's winners and we are pleased to announce and introduce to you this year's RPF Scholarship Award Recipients:

Kristine Malixi

Kristine was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2008. Since then, she has earned a Master’s degree in occupational therapy and is now pursuing a PhD with a focus on the quality of life of young adults diagnosed with rheumatoid disease.

"I am so humbled by the work of organizations like Rheumatoid Patient Foundation that are so dedicated to advocating for people like me. Together, we can take down the barriers of disease to build the brightest of futures for our community!"







Ariella Phillipo

rheumatoid patient foundation scholarship winner

Ariella Phillipo grew up in Upstate New York. She was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) at seventeen months of age, and later developed Anterior Uveitis at the age of two. She has battled with her rheumatoid arthritis her entire life, but refuses to let it hold her back from a successful education and career.

She is currently studying advertising and public relations with a 4.0 GPA at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, IL. She hopes to peruse a career in pharmaceutical advertising and strives to create transparent messages that inform and engage audiences within the medical community.




Congratulations to you both!  For more information on the RPF Scholarship Program and for information any any future award opportunities, please click here.

Click here to view our 2015 Scholarship Winners.

RPF Scholarship Winners

May 22, 2015 in Exciting, RPF News

RPF is excited to announce the two winners of our very first scholarship program: Amanda Jones of Montgomery, Alabama and Melissa Eller of Hickory, North Carolina. Congratulations! We had many excellent entries and we want to thank everyone who took the time to submit an application and essay. We wish you all the best in your educational and vocational pursuits. If you are a higher education student (or will be next year), we encourage you to keep an eye out for this year's Scholarship Program to be announced later in 2015.

Here's are a few highlights about our winners.

Amanda (Mandy) Jones

Rheumatoid Patient Foundation scholarship winner Amanda Jones

Mandy was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease in 2012. She is currently a senior in high school and is in the process of selecting the university that she will be attending in the fall.

"I am pursuing my dreams to become a biomedical engineer. I have been accepted to Saint Louis University, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and The University of Tennessee, with scholarship to all three. Take that, RA!"

Melissa Eller

Rheumatoid Patient Foundation Scholarship winner

Melissa was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease when she was in her thirties and has been living with RD for over six years. She currently works as an Activities Coordinator at an assisted living facility and is pursuing continuing education at her local community college.

"I wanted to express my gratitude to you all for this opportunity. I had given up hope on ever being able to become an event planner but now thanks to this scholarship I can say that my dream job is with in reach now!"

Congratulations once again to our winners! RPF recognizes the financial and career challenges often posed by Rheumatoid Disease. We are happy to be able to offer this scholarship opportunity to help support students affected by RD. Details about the next scholarship opportunity will be posted at the following link, when available:

by KatieB

New Scholarship Program for Families Affected by Rheumatoid Disease

October 20, 2014 in Exciting, RPF News

graduation for sidebarRPF is excited to announce a new scholarship program for individuals and families who are affected by Rheumatoid Disease. In our first year, we will be offering two $1,000 scholarships toward higher education expenses, to be awarded to individuals living with RD or who have a parent with RD.  We recognize the financial strain that rheumatoid arthritis can place on a family and the career challenges many people with rheumatoid disease face.  In light of that, we are happy to be able to offer some support to those looking to advance their education and/or change careers.

Scholarship applicants will be required to submit a short essay answering questions about their experience with rheumatoid disease and how it has affected their lives. All essay submissions will be judged based on content and quality, and two winners will be selected.  The scholarship deadline for this year is December 31st, 2014.  Winners will be selected and scholarships will be awarded in 2015.

Click here for more information on the 2014 Scholarship Program or to submit your application.

by KatieB

ContextMedia, Inc and RPF Bring Patient Voice to Rheumatology Offices

August 22, 2014 in Exciting, RPF News

Patient Videos in Rheumatology Offices

Rheumatoid Patient Foundation Video - The Faces of Rheumatoid DiseaseRheumatoid Patient Foundation is excited to announce a collaboration with ContextMedia, Inc. The ContextMedia:Health Network offers a patient education TV network to doctors' offices across the country, including about 600 rheumatology offices. RPF's very own Faces of Rheumatoid Disease video will be running across the ContextMedia:Health rheumatology network. Additionally, RPF has collaborated with ContextMedia, Inc. to produce a series of videos focused on the individual stories of people with Rheumatoid Disease. The first of these videos will run this month.

Rheumatoid Patient Foundation Resources Available to Patients and Doctors

RPF will also provide educational materials to rheumatology offices in the ContextMedia:Health Network. We will be distributing several of our brochures to participating offices. Individuals and health professionals can also request copies of our educational materials directly from our website.

Patients Supporting Patients in Their Doctors' Offices

Our hope is to provide educational resources that are easy to understand and to provide encouragement and support to others with rheumatoid disease during their time spent in doctors' waiting rooms. Rheumatoid disease can be confusing and isolating; and sometimes just hearing from another voice who understands can provide hope.

Share Your Story

Want to share your story? We'd love to feature you on our blog! Click here to email us and we'll provide some parameters to help put your story together and share your experience with Rheumatoid Disease.

Share Your Story


January 28, 2014 in Events, Exciting, Press Release

rad-ribbon 14

Patients Around the Globe Band Together to Increase Awareness for Rheumatoid Arthritis

January 27, 2014 – Thousands of patients are joining an international movement to increase awareness for the chronic illness known as rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatoid disease, in anticipation of the second annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day on February 2.

Rheumatoid Awareness Day was established in 2013 by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) to address the lack of awareness for rheumatoid arthritis — often presumed to be a type of arthritis — and resulting inadequacies in disability accommodations, clinical care, healthcare costs and research funding.

This year’s awareness day is expected to have an even larger reach and greater impact. Patients in the U.S. and Canada have already worked within their localities to establish several official proclamations for the observance of Rheumatoid Awareness Day, and local support is being seen across Europe and in New Zealand. “It’s exciting to be contacted by patients, organizations, and even clinicians from around the world asking how they can participate,” says RPF President Kelly Young. Another positive indication that the day is gaining momentum is medical media reaching out. “We know that this is the beginning of something important – something permanent,” says Young; “to bring this invisible disease out of the shadows, driving much needed assistance and research.”

RPF is encouraging individuals and organizations to get involved in the 2014 Rheumatoid Awareness Day by joining the Facebook event created for the day; participating in an online chat on February 2, with Mayo Clinic rheumatologist Dr. John Davis; sharing awareness images and education resources; and creating their own awareness events. RPF is asking participants to share what rheumatoid awareness means to them and to show how they are celebrating awareness by posting photos and personal blogs.

Additionally, Crescendo Bioscience is providing a matching grant for donations to RPF, up to $15,000. Crescendo Bioscience provides quantitative molecular tests and disease information services in the field of rheumatology; it’s initial product is Vectra® DA, the multi-biomarker blood test for rheumatoid arthritis. More information about Rheumatoid Awareness Day and how to be involved can be found at

About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive inflammatory disease causing damage to joint and organ tissues, resulting in severe pain, frequent disability, and increased mortality. For most patients, current treatments neither relieve all symptoms nor assure a healthy future. Remission is rare[1]. Rheumatoid disease affects about one percent of the world’s population, and Mayo Clinic says lifetime risk of the disease is 3.6 percent for women and 1.7 percent for men[2].

About the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
RPF is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rheumatoid diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis. RPF was founded in 2011 to address a significant lack of disease education, comparatively low levels of research funding, and difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. RPF is committed to creating pathways to better clinical care and disease outcomes through education, awareness, and participation in patient-centered research. For more information, visit or follow RPF on Facebook or Twitter.



Kelly Young
PO Box 236251
Cocoa, FL 32923

[1] Prince, F et al. Arthritis Research and Therapy. Sustained rheumatoid arthritis remission is uncommon in clinical practice.
[2] Mayo Clinic. 2011. Mayo Clinic Determines Lifetime Risk of Adult Rheumatoid Arthritis.