You ever have days when you just don't want to get out of bed? When the world seems so overwhelming, scary, crazy, and all too much to handle? Me too. But then, I stop and think about someone like Maya. Maya, a devoted friend of Lovely's, is the amazing woman behind the award-winning blog Loving With Chronic Illness. Maya has Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy, a "rare form of arthritis that causes inflammation, stiffness and pain in the joints and connective tissues throughout the body." Some days Maya literally cannot get out of bed; she has to hold onto walls to walk; she can't live the life that she dreams of having. However, like I said, Maya is amazing, and she's decided to run against the wind and live out all her dreams, including completing a 5K. Maya will be walking (along with her outstanding boyfriend and family) in the 2011 Arthritis Walk. We wanted to share some more information about what Maya is doing and how you can help (even by just saying "hi!") Maya accomplish her goal, so she can help all those afflicted with Arthritis out there.

So, Maya, first thing's first: What is Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy?

The disease I live with is called Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (really rolls off the tongue, I know!). Spondyloarthropathy (also called "Spondylitis") is a severe rare form of arthritis that causes inflammation, stiffness and pain in the joints and connective tissues throughout the body. Just like me, most people with Spondylitis are afflicted in their spine and sacroiliac joints (pelvic joints that support the spine). Because of the chronic pain, it also causes chronic exhaustion. In more severe cases, joints can actually fuse together. If you'd like to read more about Spondylitis and other relates diseases, please give the Spondylitis website a glance.

Why do you feel so connected to this cause? Why is this specific event mean so much to you?

Last year was the worst year of my life. The medication that I've relied on for so many years stopped working and it was several months before I found a treatment that worked for me again. In the meantime, I was fighting an uphill battle. There were many days that I struggled to even get out of bed on my own or walk to the bathroom without assistance. Now that I'm getting back on my feet, I thought a walk to benefit the Arthritis Foundation and other sufferers was the perfect way to celebrate. To some people 3.1 miles may be nothing, but for me it will be a profound challenge. I promised myself never to take for granted what my body could do and, with each step of this 5K, I'll be honoring my body and all of the people who live with related conditions.

What is the 5K Arthritis Walk?

The Arthritis Foundation's 5K Walk maintains the slogan: Let's Move Together. The Arthritis Walk is the Arthritis Foundation’s annual nationwide event that raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis, the nation’s most common cause of disability. It is a tremendous opportunity to help improve the lives of the 50 million men, women and children doctor-diagnosed with arthritis. Let’s Move Together, a nationwide movement led by the Arthritis Foundation, encourages people to move to prevent or treat arthritis. By joining the movement you also make the commitment to participate in your local 2011 Arthritis Walk.

How can we all support you and the Arthritis Walk?

know money is tighter for most of us lately, so I find it difficult asking for donations. Even leaving an encouraging note on my blog post, Walking For Arthritis & For Myself, and/or passing this on to your friends and family would be fantastic! However, if you can spare some money (even a dollar), it will help fund arthritis research, education, and community programs. To read more about the Arthritis Foundation, please click here. Personally, I know that before I decide to donate to an organization, I like to check it out of Charity Navigator. Therefore, I think it's only fair to provide you with the Arthritis Foundation's evaluation. If you aren't happy with this evaluation, please consider directing your donation to the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) instead. SAA is the organization that raises money for my specific disease. Here is Charity Navigator's evaluation of SAA. Thank you all so much!

Thank you for all the info, Maya! If you want to donate to Maya's team for the Arthritis walk, click here. Or, just say hi on Maya's blog here. And, check back tomorrow for a special giveaway in honor of Ms. Maya!

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