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Release: Nov. 12, 1999

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 337-6194. 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 — Arthritis is one of the most pervasive, yet silent health problems in the United States. But on Dec. 4, there will be no silencing the resounding jingling bells at the North Liberty Recreation Center as hundreds of people gather to participate in the annual Jingle Bell Walk/Run event to benefit arthritis research and care at the University of Iowa.

The walk/run, which the Iowa Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation sponsors each year, begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. Interested individuals may pick up registration brochures at many local businesses and public libraries anytime or register at the event Saturday, Dec. 4.

Participants may opt for an indoor or outdoor walk or an outdoor run. Each event is

5 kilometers (3.1 miles). 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 and clowns, and opportunities for door prizes and awards. Each child participant also will receive a bag full of goodies. Refreshments and musical entertainment by the North Liberty Brass Band will be provided.

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. Participants last year raised more than $6,000, which helped support UI researchers and services for UI Health Care patients. The goal for this year is $10,000. The Arthritis Foundation has contributed more than $800,000 to UI arthritis research in the last five years.

Iowa has the fourth highest rate of arthritis in the United States with 17 percent of Iowans (485,000 children and adults) having at least one of the more than 100 forms of the often-debilitating disease.

Nationwide, arthritis affects nearly 43 million Americans, or one in every six people, making it the No. 1 crippling disease. The number could climb to 60 million by the year 2020 unless researchers come up with steps to limit the impact of the disease. Each year, arthritis costs the country more than $64 billion in medical care and lost wages.

The Jingle Bell Walk/Run in North Liberty will be one of about 200 around the country and one of five in Iowa that the Arthritis Foundation will hold this year. The event is the largest fund-raising walk/run event in the country.

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 will receive either jingle bell gloves or shoelaces.

For more information, call Joan Felkner, chairwoman of the Johnson County Arthritis Foundation Board at 337-6194, Dave Leslie at 338-4066 or Karen Olsen at 337-6753.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.