DARIEN, Conn. -- Darien teenager Erin Edgar was honored with the Dawn Hafeli Award for Youth Leadership at the Arthritis Foundation’s national Juvenile Arthritis Conference.
The annual national award is presented to a youth under 18 who has shown exceptional courage and strength in their own experience of living with a pediatric rheumatic disease; demonstrated leadership by volunteering their time and talents to benefit other youth and young adults with rheumatic disease; and is involved with the Arthritis Foundation in the local community through fundraising events, volunteer activities or JA activities.
Erin Edgar, 13, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago, and six months later was leading the charge for her local Jingle Bell Run team. Erin’s Elves was 2013’s No. 1 fundraising team in Westchester County, N.Y., as well as the largest team with over 45 team members.
Edgar and her family participated in the Jingle Bell Run despite the fact that Erin could not even walk at the time. Her family pushed her in a stroller through the entire route on a windy, snowy December morning. Ten feet before the finish line, Erin made her sister stop the stroller. Erin made herself stand up and walk the final steps across the finish line.
Erin’s hope for 2014 was to walk the entire course, and she did. She and her family raised over $16,000 in their second Jingle Bell Run. She has also volunteered her time as an arthritis advocate.
In the spring, Erin registered as a youth ambassador with the Northeast Region and began building relationships with her elected officials. In March, she and her mother attended their first advocacy summit in Washington, D.C., and met with Sen. Christopher Himes on arthritis-related issues.
Erin takes her passion to school, spreading awareness and raising money for the Arthritis Foundation there as well.
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