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Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-9917

Release: Immediate

NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information on arthritis research and treatments at the University of Iowa, you may arrange interviews with members of the UI rheumatology staff by contacting Joan Felkner at 356-4262 (work) or 337-6194 (home). Because of staff members' hectic clinical schedules, please call ahead to arrange interview times.

Jingle Bell Walk/Run to benefit UI arthritis research, treatment

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Many people scurry around malls this time of year to shop. However, those who will participate in the local Jingle Bell Walk/Run for Arthritis have a different reason for their Dec. 5 trip to Coral Ridge Mall -- they want to raise money for local arthritis research and treatment.

The walk/run, which the Iowa Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation sponsors each year, begins with registration at 8 a.m. near the Coral 10 Theatre entrance. Interested individuals may pick up registration brochures at many local businesses and public libraries anytime or register at the event Saturday, Dec. 5.

Participants may opt for the indoor walk through the mall or the outdoor 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) run around the center. There is an Elf Run for children age 9 and younger. Organizers also have planned a number of family activities including a visit with Santa, fun with clowns, face painting, free carousel rides, refreshments, door prizes and awards for participants.

There is no registration fee to participate; however, organizers encourage individuals to collect pledges from family members and friends to support the work of the Arthritis Foundation. Last year's 160 participants raised roughly $7,000, which helped to support UI researchers and services for patients. This year's goal is $7,500. In addition to the local contributions, the Arthritis Foundation has contributed more than $229,000 to UI arthritis researchers during 1998.

Iowa has the fourth highest rate of arthritis in the United States with 17 percent of Iowans having the often-debilitating disease. Nationwide, arthritis affects nearly 43 million Americans -- or one in every six people. The number could climb to 60 million by 2020 unless researchers come up with steps to limit the disease's impact.

The Jingle Bell Walk/Run is the largest fund-raising run/walk event in the country. The Iowa City location is one of about 200 sites around the country and one of four locations in eastern Iowa where the Arthritis Foundation will hold the event this year.

Interested individuals should not worry about having to complete the walk or run to participate. Organizers also encourage people to sign up as teams. Everyone who participates receives either jingle bell gloves or shoelaces.

For more information, call Steve Breese, chairman of the Johnson County Arthritis Foundation Board, at 339-7151 or publicity coordinator Joan Felkner at 337-6194.