May 31, 2013

Fighting Juvenile Arthritis & Uveitis with Gavin

This adorable little boy is our cousin Gavin Smith. 
In this photo, he's supporting his Mom, Julie, a guest speaker at the 
Arthritis Foundation's kick-off luncheon for the 2013 Tampa Arthritis Walk. 

Here's Gavin's story.

As a 21-month-old toddler, Gavin woke up one morning with a swollen knee, and ended up in a cast for 4 weeks. The cast came off, but he had even more swelling and pain. The next day he saw a pediatric rheumotologist. "I had never heard the word 'arthritis' and 'kids' in the same sentence before," Julie shared, "so when the rheumetologist said that Gavin has Juvenile Arthritis, I was in shock! I did my research and cried & cried."

Treatment began with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, plus weekly Chemo injections. After 6 months of treatments, it was discovered that Gavin had developed Uveitis, an inflammation of the eye, often association with JA. Monthly remicade infusions were now required.

Here's an example of when his arthritis flares up. I can't imagine the pain he must feel.

Gavin's parents are active in raising Juvenile Arthritis awareness and support.
They've created a Facebook page called Fighting Juvenile Arthritis & Uveitis with Gavin.

Here's a photo of Gavin at the 2012 Arthritis Walk.

Julie said, "Gavin has had the chance to meet other amazing kids who have JA as well. The Arthritis Foundation does so much for kids and their families outside of the hospitals to make them feel special!"

Here's Gavin and his brothers at Legoland Florida for JA Family Day.

"There are camps, conferences, walks, and monthly meet-ups with local families. 
Being able to connect with other families has been great for us and for Gavin!"

Here's a photo of Gavin at Camp Boggy Creek, founded by Paul Newman.

Gavin is blessed with a wonderful family.
Tyler & Julie Smith, with their 3 handsome sons. Brigham, Cole, & Gavin!

One of Gavin's favorite things - fishing!

Gavin is now 8 years old. His Uveitis and JA are still fighting to break down his little body, but Gavin is tough, and is fighting harder to stop it! He now has infusions every 2 weeks.

Visit these websites for more information on Juvenile Arthritis and Uveitis:

To join the Smith Family's efforts to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation, click here.



  1. Debbie Felts5/31/13, 6:03 PM

    You did a wonderful piece on Gavin. I am Gavin's second grade teacher, Ms. Felts. Gavin is, by far, one of the most vibrant, toughest, and enjoyable kids I have had the opportunity to teach. Gavin gives me a purpose in my classroom and I love his little personality! He is affected by JA much more than anyone can imagine, but with the support Gavin has, he will make strides and be a productive adult. I am so honored to have taught such a loving young man and he has touched my heart like no other child in my 15 years of teaching. Thank you, Julie, for being the mom you are and supporting Gavin every step of the way! The Smith family ROCKS!!! Love you Gavin!!

    Ms. Felts

    1. Thank you, Ms. Felts, for your wonderful comments. Gavin is so blessed to have a loving teacher like you!

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