An inspiring story has come out of the University of Richmond about a student who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s entire body, from joint and muscle pain to heart problems.
Journalist Mary Rossiter tells us about UR student Dana Guglielmo:
Dana Guglielmo, now 22, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 17 years old.
The sudden diagnosis did not stop her from receiving a scholarship to University of Richmond for track and field. For the past four years, she has been a steeplechaser (long distance hurdling with a water pit) on the track and field team.
Guglielmo said she thought her running career was over when she found out that she had arthritis. She did not know that she could have the disease and still be so active.
Guglielmo gets a bimonthly injection of medicine into her stomach and takes six pills a week to treat her arthritis. “The medicine came with side effects and made me sick at first,” Guglielmo said. Now she has “pretty good control over the disease.”
The arthritis “affects me every single day in some way,” Guglielmo said.
Some days, one of her joints will flare up, causing her to have to call the doctor to get emergency medication.
“When I get sick, I get very sick, and it can be hard to deal with,” she said.
In her free time, Guglielmo is an intern at the Arthritis Foundation in Richmond. The Arthritis Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases,” said Ki’Yonna Brown, the health and wellness director at the foundation.
“Dana is a walking, talking inspiration as she is diagnosed with arthritis and still lives her life as if nothing will get her down,” Brown said.
Guglielmo is currently working on helping to organize the annual holiday Jingle Bell 5-kilometer race for the foundation, which “as a runner, I’m very excited about,” she said. The event “dispels the myth that when you have arthritis, you are crippled for the rest of your life,” she said.
Guglielmo particularly enjoys working with children at the foundation. “I was able to have a childhood without arthritis, and it breaks my heart that these children never had that,” she said. “I want to show them that everything is going to be okay in the end.”
Source: University of Richmond Collegian