Jingle Bell Run marks 25th anniversary

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Voted as one of the nation’s “Most Incredible Themed Races” in 2012, the next installment of the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is Dec. 15. The race raises funds to fight and cure arthritis. Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability, a serious disease that affects 53 million Americans, and approximately one in four Hoosier adults, including 6,400 children.

In honor of its silver anniversary, this year’s Jingle Bell Run will feature 25 Faces of Arthritis – people from the Indianapolis area battling this debilitating disease. One medical honoree is Kathleen Thomas, DO, a board-certified rheumatologist at Community Health Network in Noblesville.

“People think of arthritis as an old person’s disease, but many autoimmune diseases affect the whole age spectrum,” she stated. “Symptoms can be subtle or quite explosive and people will try to rationalize away the pain or treat themselves. But early diagnosis and treatment are key to getting good control.”

Thomas, a Fishers resident, treats more than 1,000 people with differing forms of arthritis and related disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones.

“It’s a good time to be in rheumatology and a good time to have arthritis,” she stated. “Thanks to advances in research and medicine, we now have great treatments and the disease is manageable. We can do things now that we couldn’t before.”

But she didn’t always want to be a rheumatologist. Thomas started out with the hopes of becoming a dermatologist.

“I was struck early on by how female-dominant autoimmune diseases are,” Thomas stated. “These diseases affect women during their child bearing years, which is a critical time in a woman’s life. I wanted to be an advocate for the millions of women living with chronic pain.”

Thomas’ office has participated in the Jingle Bell Run for the past seven years raising close to $3,500 for arthritis research and education.

“It’s a great way to be involved with my patients outside the office,” Thomas stated. “Plus I know the Arthritis Foundation does great work in terms of educating people about the disease and providing them with the recourses they need to manage their care.”

For more information, visit www.indyjinglebellrun.com.

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