Jen Horonjeff mader a stop in Hilton Head, along her 1400 mile journey from New York to Orlanfdo, in order to raise awareness for juvenile arthritis.
At just 11 months old, Horonjeff was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the most common type of juvenile arthritis. Jen says she refused to let the disease hold her back and is ready to set out on perhaps the biggest challenge of her life.
On Friday, July 3, she – along with boyfriend Keegan Stephan – began a tandem bike ride down the East Coast with the goal of arriving in Orlando, Fla. in time for the Arthritis Foundation’s 31st annual National Juvenile Arthritis Conference. Jen hopes the journey will raise awareness of juvenile arthritis and serve as an inspiration to families who are coping with the disease.
“The idea for this ride was first presented to me as a dare, but it didn’t take long before I wrapped my head around the idea and decided to do it,” says Jen. “In my 30 years with the disease, I’ve always wanted to challenge my physical abilities. There are so many misconceptions about who gets arthritis, and I want be a face for what this disease really is, who it affects, and the different ways it can impact people’s lives.”
Juvenile arthritis, which impacts an estimated 300,000 children in the U.S., is an umbrella term for a number of childhood diseases affecting the joints and musculoskeletal system. The diseases share common symptoms, like pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth, but each has its own unique characteristics and affects the body differently.