“I’m Going to Prove You Wrong”

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 To the loud cheers of her friends, 12-year-old Danielle Adams scaled the enormous rock climbing wall at Camp Marston in Julian this week, living proof of the message she has about kids with juvenile arthritis: "We can do everything you can do."  

Adams is one of about forty campers taking part in a week-long program designed for children diagnosed with arthritis.

"They can kind of stretch their wings out here and climb the rock wall and swim and do all those fun things," says Sandra Hayhurst, with the Arthritis Foundation.

About 300,000 children in the U.S. have arthritis.

"It's a leading childhood disease and most people don't realize that children get arthritis too.  We've had them as young as four months old," explains Hayhurst.

The joint venture between the San Diego Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and the YMCA allows kids to meet others with the condition, and exposes them to a wide variety of physical activities.

"And by doing that they can you know keep strong and well and do it in a fun way," camp nurse Wendy Graca said.

The medical staff tasked with keeping a close eye on the children administers medication to nine-year-old Crystal Gonzales six times throughout the day to keep the arthritis symptoms at bay.

"Sometimes I can feel it, and it hurts so I have to lay down," Gonzalez says. But she says she’s having at great time at camp, "I like it, it's fun. The food's good, for sure!"

16-year-old Junior Counselor Kevin Collins Nelson developed arthritis in his left leg at the age of three, and it has since spread to most of his body.

"I still feel the arthritis pain, but I want to grow up and join the military so I want to build past that, so even when I have that pain, it's just, keep going anyway," Collins Nelson says, "When they tell me you can't do this because of a disability, I think well you know what I'm going to prove you wrong."

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