About my mom and psoriatic arthritis:
My mom suffers from psoriatic arthritis, a combination of two seemingly unrelated diseases: psoriasis and arthritis.  Usually psoriasis develops first and then signs of arthritis begin to show up too.  For some people (and what most people think of when they think psoriasis or arthritis), the disease has a relatively small impact on their life causing occasional pain.  In reality, the disease is life changing for my mom.  It was first diagnosed when she needed knee replacement surgery in her early 50's, which is young for the surgery.  The disease slowly deteriorates joints throughout your body, causing intense pain along the way.  She also gets painful patches on her skin (they look like cuts and sores) as a result of the psoriasis which form all over her arms and legs.  Her current medicines and treatments have done a great job of helping with this, which even at its worst was relatively minor for her compared to a lot of patients.  She does have psoriasis on her scalp, which isn't noticeable for a lot of people but continues to challenge her despite the medicines.

In terms of joint deterioration, her knee was the worst area which is why they did surgery, but they suspect she will need her other knee replaced at some point and slowly other joints in her body are impacted.  Lately her wrists have been in pain which you can imagine has a big impact on your every day life.  There are days she struggles to get moving in the morning but yet she always does her best to be there for my sister and I when we need her.  Even worse, there's really no rhyme or reason to when she will have a bad day so making plans for trips and events in the future can be intimidating.  Though she has some wonderful doctors helping her, the medicines available now can't undo damage already done but simply stop the progression.  I hope that with more research, we can come up with better treatments.   

My mom had back problems throughout all of my childhood, yet she never missed an important event for me or my sister as we were growing up.  Now that I live a few hours away, I don't get to see my parents as much but we still talk on the phone all the time.  Even when she's having a bad day she'll listen to me talk for hours.  She truly is a wonderful person and I can only hope to be as strong as her one day. 

There are a few primary reasons I decided to take on this challenge:
1) To show I care.  There is nothing worse than watching someone you love deal with a sickness.  While I can't change a lot of what my mom is going through, I can show her that she's never in this alone, and I will do what I can to be there for her.  I expect this challenge to become one of the most defining factors of the next year, and probably of my life.  It won't undo what my mom is going through, but maybe it will make her feel better. 

2) To fund research initiatives.  In the long term, it will require research and a lot of dedicated individuals to come up with better treatments and improve the lives of those with psoriatic arthritis.  My goal in this is to raise a minimum of $10,000 with the potential for a lot more.  Though I detail my fundraising goals more in other sections, I have a generous offer from my dad to match all donations up to $13,100 (which would be a total of $26,200), so the more money I can raise the better.  This money will go to psoriatic arthritis research and initiatives through the National Psoriasis Foundation, which I hope helps develop better treatments and help those already diagnosed.

3) Raise awareness and get others involved.  The more people who are aware of the disease and the impact it has on the lives of those with psoriatic arthritis and their family, the better.  On a different note, I've also found a lot of people want to start running but never get motivated.  If this challenge encourages them to stay healthy and start running or run a race, then it has been worthwhile.  Maybe others will take on their own challenges to raise money for the National Psoriasis Foundation (great!) or another charity that holds significance to them.
If you know someone with psoriasis, arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, or really anyone in need of some hope, please consider passing this blog along to them so they know that people care and are working to make a difference.  As challenging as the disease can be, I believe support can go a long way.