13-Year-Old Walla Walla Girl Gets Thousands to Wear Blue for Juvenile Arthritis
Today is the 2nd Annual Wear Blue Day to support the fight against juvenile arthritis, and this year, the launch is global.
Students across the country and even some in other countries are wearing blue to raise awareness about the disease.
The driving force behind it all is a 13-year-old girl from Walla Walla.
"I feel that if I'm talking openly about arthritis and can get somebody diagnosed sooner than I did, I kind of feel like I've done my job and help them not have to go through what I did," said Allison Wanichek.
Allison has been living with arthritis in her knees, ankles and wrist for nearly four years and instead of feeling sorry for herself, she has taken the challenge to raise money and awareness about her fight, one she shares with many others.
Today more than 10,000 people in the Walla Walla, College Place and Milton Freewater schools districts are wearing blue, as wells as schools in Tennessee, Denver, Colorado and even the United Kingdom.
Local businesses also particpated and they said it's a way to inform customers about juvenile arthitis.
"They were like juvenile arthritis? They had no idea, so I was telling them just a little bit about it," said Katie Gonzalez, owner of Green Spoon in Walla Walla.
"With 25 people that work here, we all have an outlet where we can talk about it and be able to spread the word and I think for us being able to do that for her is a great thing," said Jeanese Lefore, owner of Misbehaven Spa & Salon in Walla Walla.
"The most important part is that we're raising awareness for juvenile arthritis and I just think that's really cool that people are excited to do that," said Allison.
Allison's younger brother, Jack Wanicheck has also been a driving force getting his school to participate.
"It's really fun to go to all the different schools wearing blue," said Jack.
Allison started a page on instagram and has had a number of kids reach out to her about juvenile arthitis and she has advice for them.
"Just keep your head up because things will get better and it's hard when you're sad and you feel like there's nobody there for you," said Allison. "There's always going to be someone there for you and I'm here for them."
In the past few years, Allison has raised more than $18,000 donated to the Arthitis Foundation through lemonade stands and donations.
Her journey will also be featured in the June 2014 edition of American Girl Magazine.
She's come a long way at 13-years-old, and we plan on following her journey with her.
Facebook: Walla Walla Blue Day for Juvenile Arthritis
Instagram tag: #wallawallablueday