Youthful Walla Walla activist wins national acclaim

'Arthritis Today' featured Allison Wanichek, 11, an arthritis sufferer who raises funds and awareness of the ailment.

Allison and Jack Wanichek pose at their lemonade stand this summer. The pair raised about $5,000 for the Arthritis Foundation after raising $3,000 the previous summer.

Allison and Jack Wanichek pose at their lemonade stand this summer. The pair raised about $5,000 for the Arthritis Foundation after raising $3,000 the previous summer. Courtesy photo

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WALLA WALLA -- A local girl is being recognized by a national magazine for her work raising awareness for juvenile arthritis.

Allison Wanichek, 11, is featured in the latest issue of Arthritis Today. The article, "Turning Lemons Into Lemonade to Support Juvenile Arthritis," covers Allison's diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, and her work raising thousands of dollars for the cause.

Allison's mother, Staci Wanichek, said the family was in Seattle doing back-to-school shopping when they got the call for Allison from "Arthritis Today," a national consumer health magazine published by the Arthritis Foundation. The magazine had gotten word of Allison's efforts, and wanted to do a feature story on her.

"It was a surprise," Wanichek said.

Allison, a sixth-grader at Garrison Middle School, had already hosted a lemonade stand with her younger brother to raise money for worthy causes. When her chronic joint pain was diagnosed as juvenile idiopathic arthritis when she was 10, the lemonade stand became a way to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation.

Held over three hours on one day in July, Allison and her brother, Jack, raised $3,000 for the Arthritis Foundation that first summer in 2011. This past July, the siblings raised about $5,000, all to support the nonprofit. The lemonade stand, which the siblings set up outside their father's business, Walla Walla Builders Supply, coincides with National Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.

Along with the lemonade stand, Allison helped coordinate a "Blue Day" at her school last year, when students were encouraged to wear blue -- the color for arthritis -- as a call for awareness.

Allison is also being recognized by the Arthritis Foundation as an honoree during its inaugural Jingle Bell Run/Walk Nov. 17 in the Tri-Cities.

The fundraiser will feature a Christmas Village, and Allison plans to go as a pink elf, while Jack, a second-grader at Prospect Point Elementary, will attend dressed as a Santa.

"He's probably her biggest cheerleader and biggest helper," Wanichek said about her son.

Allison said she is excited about the upcoming magazine feature, and her recognition during the upcoming Jingle Bell Run/Walk, because it recognizes her efforts as well as the generosity of those who have donated.

"It's been a wonderful experience helping others," she said.

As for living with juvenile arthritis, Allison has been able to manage the pain with medication, but still suffers from pain, particularly in the winter.

"I've been doing a lot of physical therapy, and that has been a fantastic thing for me to do," she said.

Allison said she had not imagined the amount of support people would give for her cause.

"I was surprised when the total amount came out," Allison said about her lemonade stand. "I was just really happy, and I was glad people came and supported the lemonade stand. I was very thankful."

Comments

DeadDawg 1 year, 9 months ago

Allison, your dedication to making a difference in our world is inspiring.Congratulations for a job well done!

2

Myinput 1 year, 9 months ago

Great job Allison and little brother, Jack. Your story is inspiring to us all.

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