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Published on December 06, 2016

MU Health Care, Arthritis Foundation Team Up for Jingle Bell Run

More than 50 million Americans have arthritis, making it the No. 1 cause of disability in the United States. University of Missouri Health Care is teaming up with the Arthritis Foundation to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease by sponsoring the 2016 Columbia Jingle Bell Run on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Listen to Celso Velázquez, MD, talk to KFRU's David Lile about the upcoming Jingle Bell Run.

The family-friendly event, scheduled from 8 to 11 a.m. at Stephens College’s John and Mary Silverthorne Arena, 107 Dorsey St., includes an adult 5K walk or run for $45, a youth 5K walk or run for $35 and a “Tot Trot” for young children for $5. To receive a $5 discount for either 5K events, participants can enter the discount code “SAVE5” when registering online at

“People with arthritis face unique barriers to care, such as costs and access,” said Celso Velázquez, MD, a rheumatologist at MU Health Care and medical honoree for this year’s event. “Events such as the Jingle Bell Run are important because the funds raised go toward treatment resources, advancements in science and community connections for those with arthritis, as well as their caregivers.”

Anjali Patwardhan, MD, a pediatric rheumatologist at MU Children’s Hospital and last year’s Jingle Bell Run medical honoree, echoed Velázquez’ thoughts, especially regarding the young patients she treats.

“The American College of Rheumatology estimates there are about 300,000 children in the U.S. between the ages of 6 months and 17 years who have juvenile arthritis,” Patwardhan said. “Arthritis in children is treatable. However, I cannot stress how important early diagnosis and treatment is to help prevent joint damage and further complications. It also is important for children to get treatment from health care professionals who are knowledgeable about childhood arthritis.”

Anjali Patwardhan, MD

Anjali Patwardhan, MD

Rheumatologists, especially those who treat pediatric patients, do not commonly practice in small towns and more rural areas. Patwardhan, for example, is the only pediatric rheumatologist in mid-Missouri, and one of only approximately 280 such pediatric specialists in the U.S., according to the Arthritis Foundation.

“Having a rheumatology program for both adults and children here in central Missouri is just one of the many benefits of an academic health center,” Velázquez said. “It brings specialty care to mid-Missouri and beyond. A local event such as the Jingle Bell Run brings us all together to support our friends and family members who have arthritis and to make a difference in their lives. Our goal for this year’s event is to raise $40,000, and we can only do that with the support of our community.”

The Arthritis Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of people living with arthritis. Through local offices nationwide, the Arthritis Foundation sponsors a variety of year-round events to raise funds and create awareness, from local walks and runs to dinners, galas and other affairs.

Download a high-resolution photo of Celso Velázquez, MD.

Download a high-resolution photo of Anjali Patwardhan, MD.