Local mom helping patients and families with arthritis journey

Today’s Women: Rainbow Doemel

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May is Arthritis Awareness Month and according to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States suffer from the disease.

Right now, there is no cure, but there are resources and people that are dedicated to helping patients and their families.

After watching her daughter suffer from arthritis symptoms at just 2 years old, Rainbow Doemel became a huge advocate for people living with arthritis and chronic pain.

“I really found such a passion for people living with chronic pain like my 2-year-old, who wasn’t able to get off the couch and play like other little kids,” Doemel said. “When I called the Arthritis Foundation in tears 20 years ago, the voice on the end of the other end of the phone said ‘it’s okay, we got you.'”

Doemel started as a volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation more than two decades ago, when her now-22-year-old daughter was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. She didn’t know much about the disease at the time, but now she is using everything she has learned to help patients and their families.

“If it’s educational material, if it’s just somebody to listen on the other end of the phone, or meet for a cup of coffee, whatever I have to do to support people living in the area with chronic pain and arthritis,” Doemel said.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the disease affects more than 23% of the population in New York State.

“Chronic pain is something most people live in silently,” Doemel said. “We know arthritis is a disease people can’t see necessarily.”

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, so everyone’s experience is different.

“When you say give 100 percent, people living in chronic pain are really giving 200 percent,” Doemel said. “Sometimes that’s just to get out of bed in the morning.”

This year’s campaign is called ‘We Journey Together’ which Doemel says embodies the goal of the Arthritis Foundation.

“We know a lot of families and parents are out there feeling like they’re on an island all by themselves and we want them to know you’re not, we’re here and we got you,” Doemel said.

In June, the Arthritis Foundation is hosting a community weekend to raise money and awareness. It includes the 2024 Walk to Cure Arthritis, the wellness expo and the second annual Dink for a Cure Pickleball Tournament.

MORE: Arthritis Foundation