He's in constant pain, but that isn't going to stop Jarrett Michie from spreading festive cheer when he turns up at a hospital for treatment Christmas Eve.
The 12-year-old – who suffers from juvenile arthritis – is playing the role of Santa Claus a day early by launching a toy collection drive so that when he gets to University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital on Wednesday, he won't be empty-handed, WCCO reports.
Michie, of Apple Valley, requires monthly infusions to treat his arthritis and thought he would do his bit to help children who are spending Christmas on the ward by launching his drive, which has so far taken donations from across the country including in Florida, where his grandparents are collecting gifts.
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He has compiled a wishlist that you can find here on Amazon that people can order from up until Dec. 21. It includes toys, DVDs, socks and games.
The Rosemount Town Pages reports the gifts will be given to the Child Life Services organization, which will then wrap them and give them to Santa Claus, who will then deliver them to children at the hospital on Christmas Day.
“I see a lot of kids who have cancer and I just want to give them a better Christmas. If they’re not home for Christmas, I can bring Christmas to them,” Michie told the Town Pages.
His drive is also receiving help from Nickie Carrigan Fitness, which has put donation boxes at The Warehouse in Rosemount.
Giving not limited to the holidays
His toy drive, codenamed Operation B-Dawg Santa (his nickname is B-Dawg) is just the latest in a string of charitable efforts the 12-year-old has been involved in over the years.
He has become somewhat of an ambassador for suffering children, using his own painful condition – which affects 1 in 250 and requires regular medication – to benefit others.
In March 2013 he set a goal of raising $10,000 by taking part in a Juvenile Arthritis March at the Mall of America, the Star Tribune reports, but according to WCCO he ended up raising more than $22,000.
He intends to take part again in the 2015 Walk to Cure Juvenile Arthritis, and has set a fundraising goal of $7,000, according to his team's fundraising page.
What is juvenile arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis affects 1 in 250 children across the country, and an estimated 6,000 children in Minnesota suffer from it among 300,000 nationwide, WCCO says.
There are several versions of the disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation, but it generally involves swelling in one or more joints lasting at least six weeks, with symptoms varying from muscle and soft tissue tightening, bone erosion, joint misalignment and changes in growth patterns.
Treatment can include anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, anti-rheumatic drugs and physical therapies, the Mayo Clinic says.
It limits the movement of children, so health care providers look to keep children exercising so they can maintain function and motions of their joints, with swimming a particularly useful activities as it doesn't put any weight on joints.