Arthritis Foundation Commemorates 75 Years of Progress During Arthritis Awareness Month and National Bike Month this May
LOS ANGELES, California (May 23, 2023) — As America recognizes Arthritis Awareness Month this May, the Arthritis Foundation commemorates 75 years of championing the fight to conquer arthritis, the nation’s #1 cause of disability. May is also National Bike Month and the official kickoff of the 2023 California Coast Classic Bike Tour presented by Amgen, the Arthritis Foundation’s leading national destination fundraiser.
Since 1948, the Arthritis Foundation has invested over half a billion dollars in research, with more than $22 million coming directly from the California Coast Classic. The annual event, a fully supported bike tour traveling 525-miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles over eight days, is the Foundation’s top annual fundraiser, generating more than $1 million each year on average since its inaugural ride in 2001. Its 2023 dates are September 30 – October 7.
Caitlin West of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) 10 years ago, and now, “After years of infusions, injections, physical therapy, and one knee surgery – I am in a place where I can partake in this amazing event!” she shares on her fundraising page. “People with arthritis are warriors, boldly facing the pain, limitations and challenges the disease causes. PsA has impacted my life significantly, but I am no exception to the rule — there are thousands of arthritis warriors worldwide. I ride to cure arthritis, to improve the lives of arthritis warriors. This incredible event is the largest gathering of the arthritis community in the world, raising funds for resources and research, to find better treatments and a cure.”
Typically, at least 40% of California Coast Classic riders either have arthritis or are riding for a loved one with the autoimmune disease that affects one in four Americans. This year, at least 80 of the expected sell-out crowd of 250 riders, have identified themselves as living with arthritis. And even more surprising to those who don’t have arthritis, is the fact that riding a bike is considered one of the healthiest activities for people with certain forms of the disease.
“’We’re riding for a cure!’ is our mantra, and each and every rider who has cycled the California Coast with us has made a significant contribution to the Arthritis Foundation’s mission, research, and programs,” said Shannon Marang Cox, National Senior Director of the California Coast Classic Bike Tour at the Arthritis Foundation. “We get cyclists coming for the amazing coastal experience, we have people riding to raise funds on behalf of a loved one, and each year we have riders who toe the line with arthritis themselves. It’s an inspiring group that deserves to be celebrated.”
Adarsh Pandit of Oakland, California, is one of those riders. Adarsh has Rheumatoid Arthritis and is participating in his third California Coast Classic this year. He says that cycling is the one thing that helps him manage it more than anything else, and he recently shared some of his inspiration with other riders here.
“Active, healthy habits and exercise are often helpful for those living with arthritis and cycling is a relatively low impact exercise that improves overall health and pain management,” Marang Cox shared.
“I ride for myself and those who feel isolated in this shared experience,” said Kendra Laguilles, referring to her experience with Lupus for more than a decade. The Signal Hill, California, native received the Arthritis Foundation’s 2022 Young Adult Leadership Award for her efforts to support others with arthritis. She volunteered at the California Coast Classic in 2021 and was a rider in 2022. “Through the Arthritis Foundation and its programs, I found community and empowerment — and discovered the beauty of understanding that we are not confined to a ‘disabled’ label, but we are those who learn to be adaptive.”
One in every four Americans is living with arthritis. It’s the number one cause of disability and a growing health crisis affecting more than 60 million adults and 300,000 children.
Jeffrey Lo does not have arthritis, but he rides on behalf of his son, who was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at the age of two. He learned about the tour from a member of Team Amgen and this will be his second year on the California Coast Classic. He’s riding to help families receive support and advocacy from the Arthritis Foundation when they begin their journeys with juvenile arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation is leading the fight to conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science, and community connections. Funding from events like the California Coast Classic goes directly to Arthritis Foundation programs that increase quality of life with patient education and advocacy; improve access to health care; provide fee-free summer camps for children; and conduct research for better treatments and cures for the myriad forms of arthritis.
According to an article published by the Arthritis Foundation, “Biking gets your legs moving through their range of motion. This encourages the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints,” says physical therapist Jessica Schwartz, founder of PT2Go in New York City and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. “It also builds muscles in your core and legs.”
The article continues, “When these muscles are stronger, they better support the joints and relieve some of the pressure,” says Sheena Alva, a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
“I always say, ‘use it or lose it’ and so continuing to ride my bicycle has helped me to keep fit and to raise awareness about this cause that is so near and dear to my heart,” Shinju Morris states on her fundraising page. A Coast Classic veteran from Arcadia, California, Shinju’s arthritis symptoms started in her teens, and she was later diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in her 20s. “I began riding to cure arthritis, to improve the lives of arthritis warriors in 2014, and I have NO plans to stop,” she continues. “There are over 300,000 children with arthritis who suffer much more pain and disability than I do. I want a world where children (and adults) don’t have to live with arthritis pain and disability.”
Elena Ross-Salonga, of Cambria, California, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 36 after experiencing excruciating joint pain and swelling. She says that the mindset shift she’s experienced since her diagnosis is the hardest part of the journey so far, and it can be difficult to accept that her body is not going to always do what she wants it to do. A foodie and amateur chef who appeared on the Food Network show The Julia Child Challenge, Elena found remedy in developing a specific anti-inflammatory diet that maintains her balance of health but still allows joy in eating. She’s planning to ride in her first full California Coast Classic this year, a task that involves months of planning, fundraising, and training.
More information about the bike tour, including its detailed itinerary, is available at the California Coast Classic website and in this short video. The self-paced pedaling adventure is open to cyclists of all levels and welcoming of e-bike riders. It is Gran Fondo Guide’s “Best Charity Bike Tour” and has been named one of “The 30 Best Road Biking Trips” by Outside Magazine.
The dates of the 2023 California Coast Classic, presented by Amgen, are September 30 – October 7 and registration is available at this link.