Support the cause and spare a child needless pain

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A former president popularized the phrase, &#8220I feel your pain.”

But can you ever really take on the hurt and suffering someone else endures?

Plenty of parents have stood beside their sick or injured children, wishing to the high heavens they could remove all the pain their little ones felt.

When my dad suffered dementia following a major stroke, how I longed to restore the fractured pieces of his mind and psyche, and make him whole again.

I couldn't, of course. I can only encourage people to be aware of stroke warning signs and to do what they can to avoid the same catastrophic result.

I wish I had known earlier what I know now. It might have spared all of us a lot of pain and heartache.

I'm sure Joe and Donna Raybon wish they could take some of Tyler's pain away, too.

You can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces when they talk about the battle he fights daily with systemic onset juvenile rheumatic arthritis.

Chronic pain affects the mind, body and soul of not only the person in pain, but his or her family as well.

Because it took so long (about two years) to correctly identify Tyler's illness, a great deal of damage

had already been done to

his body.

As his step mom says, Tyler handles it pretty well because he can't really remember life without JRA.

However, I am sure there are times when he and his parents ponder what &#8220might have been,” if only the JRA had been correctly diagnosed much earlier.

There are thousands more children in this state who suffer from some form of arthritis.

Many of them may not be receiving the treatment they need due to the fact there are currently no pediatric rheumatologists here in Alabama.

That's why the Arthritis Foundation here in the state is working to raise funds to permanently endow and support a pediatric rheumatology program in Alabama.

Right now, children have to travel for hours if they want to see a specialist.

In the best of situations, it can be an expensive and time-consuming process to diagnose and treat autoimmune disorders like Tyler's.

When the right people aren't in place to care for such children, it becomes all the more costly and frustrating for the kids and their families.

We can't take Tyler Raybon's

pain away, but we can help other children like Tyler by giving our financial support to the Alabama Juvenile Arthritis Fund.

Help make a dream come true for Alabama's youth who are coping with JRA. By doing so, you can demonstrate you truly do feel their pain.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at