On a sunny afternoon 9 year old Charisma Lewis is living up to her name. She's leading classmates around the Cushing track as part of a mini arthritis awareness march. This is a good day for charisma has rheumatoid arthritis. On some days the pain is so bad she can't leave her bed. Lewis described that rainy days are the worse. "I usually stay in bed and I cry because my legs are hurting and my shoulders."
Charisma was diagnosed with the painful disease when she was five, but for six months the sore joints were passed over as growing pains. Now her mother, Neva Lewis is much more knowledgeable about the lifelong disease. "We got all the medicines we can do. We put her in a hot tub we rub,rub,rub. And you just have to let it run its course."
Charisma wears an 'East Texas Hero' banner indicating the testimonial efforts she does for the arthritis foundation. Last weekend the fourth grader and her mother were in the company of Dallas Cowboys to raise awareness. But her classmates are helping too by raising money to begin an arthritis chapter in Nacogdoches County. "Because there is no program for people with arthritis in Nacogdoches," explained Neva.
the Cushing band plays on as the march continues, but Charisma will never march, play soccer or be a cheerleader. Her medications make her bones brittle. She can't take the risk, but she can do moderate exercise, particularly when it's for the Arthritis Foundation. She'll be walking again on Saturday in a larger walk she and her mom organized.