Thursday, August 10, 2006

Another Rider's Story

When Jani Bohn first started feeling body pains approximately a year ago, she thought they were due to injury or overuse from exercising.

The pains did not go away; rather, they became more severe and began to spread to Jani's other joints. Though she sought medical help and tried different medications, nothing seemed to work. It wasn't until the day her husband had to help her dress that Jani was referred to a rheumatologist and discovered she had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Jani acknowledges that she often wonders what her future with arthritis will be like, "It is there everyday. I can never get away from it."
Rather than running away from her diagnosis, Jani embraced and accepted it as another part of her. With the nearest Arthritis Foundation chapter 75 miles away, Jani and a few friends created a chronic pain support group, called "Rising Above the Pain" or RAP, at the YMCA in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where Jani teaches fitness classes. The symbol of the "RAP"pers is a hot air balloon, an object that has come to represent the way its members will live their lives: You never know which way the wind (representing pain) will blow you but you can control how high or low you go.

In January 2005, two months after she discovered she had RA, Jani learned about the Amgen California Coast Clasic bike tour while reading an Arthritis Today magazine. The reaction was instant: Jani knew she wanted to do it. Though she was always physically active, Jani never cycled long-distance or taken a spin class before. Through her perseverance and enthusiasm, Jani not only finished the 8-day ride along with seasoned and veteran riders, she raised $5,700 for arthritis reseach and programs! Today, Jani is "riding proof" of the power of the research and education programs that the Arthritis Foundation funds.

Since her diagnosis, Jani has been proactive about raising awareness for arthritis, staying healthy and keeping physically active. Though her schedule consists of teaching fitness classes, working at her auto parts business, Lyon's Auto Supply, and speaking to various groups about her disease, Jani still wants to do more for arthritis causes in Grand Forks.

The way Jani lives her life is similar to the slogan she placed on the helmet she will wear during her 8-day bike ride: No time for RA, riding on faith.

Donate to Jani's ride for the Arthritis Foundation.

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