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Some days, incoming Clay Middle School 6th grader, Lilly Cooley, is in so much pain that she can't get out of bed. Lilly suffers from Juvenile Arthritis and both the disease and treatment can be extremely painful and draining. When life gets difficult, Lilly said she thinks of the quote, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
"Instead of letting JA be all negative, I decided to fundraise and make it positive and try to help other people," said Lilly. And helping others is exactly what she has done! Lilly has raised an astonishing $160,000 for the Arthritis Foundation and Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. "My family, my friends, my Mohawk Trails, and Clay family have been so supportive. They are always there through my ups and downs and never hesitate to support me. They join my (fundraising) teams and make donations in support of my JA journey."
Lilly was in the hospital receiving treatment when the National Arthritis Foundation called to inform her that she had won the Dawn Hafeli Award for Youth Leadership. The award is presented to a youth who demonstrates exceptional strength and courage, leadership through volunteer efforts, and serves as a role model for children with rheumatic diseases.
Lilly's mother, Courtney, is proud of Lilly's national recognition. "Many people don't know how serious JA can be," said Courtney. "It is very difficult to see her go through it all. We are forever grateful for the support of our family, friends, and CCS family!"
To learn more about JA, please visit the Arthritis Foundation website.