TRUMBULL COUNTY Groups' hope: to cruise to cure for arthritis

Arthritis hospitalizes more than 500,000 people each year in the United States.
WARREN -- More than 1 million Northeast Ohio residents are diagnosed with arthritis, and the Trumbull County YMCA, along with the Arthritis Foundation, is cruising for a cure.
"Arthritis isn't just an inconvenience, it's a serious disease," said Steve Alexander, chief executive of Trumbull County YMCA.
Alexander and his staff organized Cruise for Arthritis, a family fun day scheduled for Saturday to help raise money for the Arthritis Foundation's research. Part of the event will be a 100-mile motorcycle ride and 100-kilometer (62-mile) bicycle ride.
Bicyclists will leave at 9 a.m. from Eastwood YMCA, 995 Youngstown-Warren Road in Niles, travel through rural areas of Trumbull County, and end back at the Eastwood YMCA.
Motorcyclists will leave the Warren YMCA, 210 High St. N.W., at 10 a.m., travel through Champion to Aurora, circle southeast through Ravenna, and end at the Eastwood YMCA. The entrance fee is $15 for riders and $10 for passengers.
Finding a cure
"YMCA has a long history with the Arthritis Foundation. I ride motorcycles and my son has arthritis," Alexander said.
Alexander said the money raised will support research done by the Arthritis Foundation.
"We have lots of medicine for arthritis, to control the advance of the disease and help with the pain, but it's very expensive. We're trying to find a cure," he said.
Nancy Cox, Arthritis Foundation Northeastern Ohio program field representative, said one of the topics the foundation researches is what kinds of exercise programs are good for people with arthritis.
"Right now we are doing a study with a university in Cleveland about how well people respond to aquatic exercise," she said.
Alexander said although he doesn't compare arthritis to cancer, he hopes to be able to compare arthritis fund-raising activities and research to those done for cancer.
More than 150,000 people in the Mahoning Valley area have been diagnosed with arthritis; about 80,000 in Mahoning County and more than 70,000 in Trumbull County, Alexander said.
Effects of arthritis
Arthritis can be crippling, causing joints to lock up; some rheumatoid arthritis can cause skin problems. Alexander said there are more than 100 types of arthritis.
"Arthritis is typically thought of as an 'old folks' disease, but that's not true," he said. "I've been told juvenile arthritis is very prevalent, more prevalent than cystic fibrosis or juvenile diabetes."
Cox said the causes for arthritis vary with each form of the disease.
"You can't pinpoint one thing," she said.
More than half the people diagnosed in the United States are under 65 and more than 500,000 people are hospitalized because of arthritis each year.
Trumbull County YMCA and the Arthritis Foundation have worked together before; Trumbull County YMCA has warm-water aquatics classes at the Warren and Eastwood YMCAs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Instructors are trained by the Arthritis Foundation.
"The more active people with arthritis can be, the better," Alexander said.
In addition to the Cruise and Ride, the family fun day will have motorcycle games and activities for children.
Main sponsors for the event are First Place Bank, St. Joseph Health Center and AVI Food Systems.

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