Difficult and demanding medical conditions are no match for the bond forged between the Camino sisters, 12-year-old Sarah and 9-year-old Jodi, of Fort Wayne, Ind.

Health problems started for Sarah the summer after kindergarten when she experienced severe pain and body limitations. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children diagnosed Sarah with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of juvenile arthritis.

“Controlling medication was the biggest challenge. Everything must be just right to be effective,” said Lynn Camino, the girls’ mother. “Test taking at school also presents a problem. Sarah struggles to take tests quickly as her fingers get sore and tired.”

The chronic condition requires physical therapy. Swimming, soccer and dancing caused Sarah too much pain so she developed an interest in horses. Riding two days a week exercises Sarah’s core muscles and helps her manage the arthritis more effectively.

Jodi was born with cysts on her kidney, and ultrasounds have shown more cysts have developed. Riley Hospital physicians recently determined Jodi has polycystic kidney disease. She will continue to visit Riley every six months unless she has increased abdominal pain or her kidney deteriorates. Jodi may eventually need dialysis or even a kidney transplant.

Despite their struggles, Sarah and Jodi are always empathetic with others.

“For their age they are good at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes,” said Lynn.

Jodi has spent much time in the shadow of Sarah’s treatments. Yet she patiently attends doctors’ visits or stops playing with neighbors to join her sister indoors.

Additionally, both girls have educated their classes about juvenile arthritis and invited classmates to participate in the Jingle Bell Run fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation of Northeast Indiana.

“Sarah has spoken to hundreds at this event, emphasizing the hope provided by raising money,” said Lynn. “Last year, Sarah asked Jodi to be the team captain so she could have an opportunity to bring home the trophy for raising the most money. Regardless of the situation, the girls cheer each other on in very caring and selfless ways.”

Both girls attend Aboite Elementary School in Fort Wayne. In the last four years the school has donated more than $5,000 to Kids Caring & Sharing, a school fundraising program benefiting Riley Hospital. Each February, students produce and market a product for one week. The project teaches important lessons about business, economics and giving back. Last spring, students donated the profits to Riley Hospital in Sarah’s name. Jodi will participate in the program for the first time this year.

The Camino family is considering other ways to give to Riley Hospital.

“We are going to focus on supporting Riley,” said Lynn. “Riley has been in our life at very key points. It has been nothing but a positive experience.”

The support Sarah and Jodi provide for one another and the determination they exert during fundraising activities showcase their courage and positive attitude.

 

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