Iris Jordan chosen as Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run/Walk Honoree
By Tonya Burton
Iris Jordan, 10, has lived in Zionsville all her life. Upon a cursory look, Iris’ life appears to be perfect. She lives in a town that has been touted as the safest small town in America by the national Movoto Real Estate website. Her family includes the loving, successful and creative two-parent-family of Christopher and Carrie-Ann Jordan. Her younger brother, Solomon, who is appropriately mischievous for his age of eight, adores her. The family dog, Levi, a beautiful Skye terrier, rounds out the picture of domestic bliss.
Additionally, Iris is gifted, displaying intelligence and emotional maturity beyond her biological years. However, according to Iris’ mother, Carrie-Ann, some of the emotional maturity may have been forced upon Iris as a result of the pain she faces daily.
At age seven, Iris was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, an umbrella term for various autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that affect children under 16 years of age. According to the Arthritis Foundation of America, JIA replaces the term “juvenile rheumatoid arthritis” and in Iris’ case, her additional diagnoses includes hypermobility syndrome and pain amplification syndrome.
Carrie-Ann calls JIA the invisible challenge. Iris has literally been shoved aside when sitting on a bench in a crowded restaurant because she appears to be an able bodied child. She has been chided as being pampered when she uses a pillow to ease the pain in her joints from sitting on a hard bench for long periods of time.
However, Iris Jordan doesn’t want sympathy. What Iris wants is relief from pain. She wants to be treated as much like any other child as possible. She wants to find a way to beat this childhood disease for herself and other children. Finding the right treatment has been a tough journey. Her current treatment involves an infusion of Remicade every three weeks at Riley Children’s Hospital. When her pain is particularly high, she sometimes needs intra-articular injections of steroids and lidocaine. Iris rates her daily pain as four to eight on a scale of one to ten. Because of the complexity of her condition, she has not been free from pain for over three years.
“Well, I wake up at 7:30 and sometimes, it takes about half an hour to get out of bed because I’m stiff. Then I get up and just hang out for a while before I start school,” Iris said.
She participates in a “hybrid” school program where she’s homeschooled for most of her classes, but attends Zionsville Middle School fifth-grade to participate in music and art activities.
“It’s hard to be a regular kid,” she said.
Carrie-Ann said in public Iris “has to be ‘on.’”
“She doesn’t want to have to explain her situation,” said Carrie-Ann. “Despite everything she’s gone through in her life, she maintains a positive attitude. She makes the choice to be happy.”
To try and stay healthy, she swims and does yoga. She loves theater and to sing and dance. Iris is a member of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and even auditioned for the show ‘America’s Got Talent.’
Recently, because she is determined to try and help other children with juvenile arthritis, Iris accepted the role of the 2014 Indianapolis Jingle Bell Run/Walk Honoree. In accepting this role, Iris becomes a voice for thousands of other children who endure juvenile arthritis.
All about Iris
School: Homeschooled and Zionsville Middle School
Favorite things to do: Swim, sing, dance, act
Pets: Levi, a Skye terrier
Join Iris and her family and friends for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 13. For more information about the event, visit http://indyjinglebellrun.com
To help support Iris and her team reach their fundraising goal, visit: www.indyjinglebellrun.kintera.org/irischarlizejordan