Carmel girl and her family raise awareness about juvenile arthritis through Jingle Bell Run

Pay it Forward

CARMEL, Ind. – A Carmel family is paying it forward by raising money for a cause dear to their hearts.

Ten-year-old Lilly Cooley suffers from juvenile arthritis that, at times, leaves her immobile. But she’s determined not to let it keep her down and is helping other kids just like her.

Lilly was diagnosed when she was 3 years old. Since then, she and her family have been on a mission to raise money to find a cure for a disease that affects 300,000 kids and teens nationwide.

Each year they raise money through the Jingle Bell Run, but this year, the race is virtual because of the pandemic. They’re struggling to find participants and are reaching out to the community to raise money and awareness.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of people think it’s an old person’s disease,” said Lilly’s mom, Courtney Cooley. “They also kind of think it’s aches and pains, but it’s actually an autoimmune disease.”

“Usually when it’s my worst, it’s hard for me to stand up from sitting down or getting out of bed and probably the most difficult thing would be getting up the stairs,” Lilly said.

This year’s virtual Jingle Bell Run takes place from Dec. 11 through Dec. 13. It costs $35 to sign up; the fee includes a ticket to this year’s holiday light show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

All proceeds go directly to the Arthritis Foundation to fund research for better treatments and a cure.

Head to the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run website for more information.

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