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JRA Not Holding Back Stolberg

According to the National Institutes of Health, JRA is a long-term (chronic) disease with early onset that results in joint pain and swelling. Sharon Stolberg acquired JRA at age 19 months. As a child, she went from walking in braces to using a cane and then crutches to using a wheelchair by age seven. At age 11, her disease flared-up to the point she couldn't attend school for a year. She nearly died. Within the next few years, she had three major operations, and would continue using a wheelchair until age 18.

"Having to use a wheelchair definitely isolated me," said Stolberg of her youth. "I was different and couldn't be as independent as most other people my age. I wasn't dating and couldn't do sleepovers because my friends' homes weren't accessible. That restricted me to doing things mostly with my friends with disabilities."

At 19, she made a decision to leave her wheelchair. She went on to earn an associate's degree in Florida, get married, and finish bachelor's and master's degrees in special education, with the latter at Lee University in 2011. Today, she teaches a special education class of nine children at an elementary school in Tennessee.

It's not that her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis has improved to the point of allowing her to accomplish her dreams, but rather she has fought through the pain. She enjoys rock climbing, biking, hand cycling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.

She said, "Because of JRA, I'm only 4'6". I have severe limitations in the range of motion in my arms, which impairs me most, and I also have limitations in every joint in my body. The pain is there all the time and to be active I have to mentally block out the pain. The only good joints I have are the artificial ones, my two hips."

Sharon Stolberg is a board member of Sports & Recreation of Chattanooga, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, which is a national organization providing adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities. She wants to become a motivational speaker.


LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

3 Arrested in Baby Formula HeistPlacer County sheriff's deputies arrested three Bay Area burglary suspects and are seeking a fourth after the group stole a large amount of baby formula from the north Auburn Bel Air store

Sample the Sierra Festival at South Lake TahoeFoodies and wine lovers alike will gather in South Lake Tahoe this Labor Day weekend as Sample the Sierra celebrates its 5th anniversary on Sunday, August 31st

Sierra College Supports Former Foster YouthRocklin, CA- - As the school year begins, Sierra College is taking an extra step to ensure that one group of students gets off to a good start.

Roseville Chamber Events September 2014Roseville, CA -- The Roseville Chamber of Commerce featured events for the month of September 2014.

American River Music Festival in SeptemberDip your toes in the river while grooving to world renowned vintage rock, blues, new and old grass, sweet jam and the finest of folk at the 8th Annual American River Music Festival in California's scenic Gold Country

Local Man Earns Inclusion in National Pottery ExhibitionsRocklin, CA-- Sierra College congratulates local sculptor and staffer, Anthony Maki Gill for earning inclusion in not just one, but two national exhibitions this summer

Placer Fish and Game Commission Solicit Grant ProposalsThe Placer County Fish and Game Commission is soliciting grant proposals from non-profit organizations, schools, other organizations and individuals

$7 Billion Water Bond Supported by Sacramento SupervisorsDrought Watch: AB 1471, the legislation placing the water bond on the ballot, asks voters to approve $7.12 billion for projects which will build new water storage facilities, invests in safe drinking water

Gas Prices Under $3 Gallon Coming Soon?Average retail gasoline prices in Sacramento have fallen 3.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.79/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey

Carbon Pollution Limits Can Help Save Lives and Improve HealthFew things are more frightening for a parent than racing to the hospital with a child who can't breathe.

Sierra College Football Hosts 2014 Meet The Wolverines Rocklin, CA -Amid high expectations, the 2014 Sierra College football season kicks off with the annual "Meet the Wolverines" controlled scrimmage and fan-fest Saturday, Aug. 23

Roseville California Crime Brief (8.19.14)Roseville, CA-- The Roseville Police Department Crime Brief Report for August 19, 2014.


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