Teen runs toward helping others with juvenile arthritis

Emily Goldstein

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Emily Goldstein does not remember life without arthritis.

“I was a very active 3-year-old when one day I could not get out of bed, and my family knew something was wrong,” explained Emily, 17. “One of my knees was almost the size of a grapefruit. After a couple of visits with different physicians, they determined it was juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.”

Although the condition started in her left knee, it spread through her joints, to her other knee, ankles, elbows, wrists, fingers, toes and jaw. She has been on dozens of medications and received IV infusions and cortisone shots, and has undergone other procedures to combat the arthritis. 

“At times it has been ‘under control,’ ” she said, “but it is a constant battle to stay one step ahead of the disease. I was also diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 14, so finding the right combination of medicines can be like a puzzle.”

Her type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means her immune system, which normally helps to fight off bacteria or viruses, begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects about 50,000 youngsters between the ages of 6 weeks and 16 years in the United States. More than 54 million Americans suffer with arthritis.

ADVERTISEMENT


A senior at Parkway Central High School, Emily plans to study nursing at college next year. 

“I think my arthritis has definitely been a big influence on my whole life,” she said. “I think it’s cool what people could do for me and my illness, and I think it would cool for me to do that for others.” 

Despite the arthritis, Emily participates in cross-country running at the varsity level, and runs track and field. She sometimes runs through the pain, which she says has made her a much stronger person physically and emotionally. 

“Since I bore through a lot of painful events, including injections and infusions for my illnesses, I’ve got a pretty heard shell. I’m pretty mentally strong,” she said.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, Emily will once again run in the Arthritis Foundation’s 5K Jingle Bell Run, which works to raise money to help support research efforts and find a cure for people suffering with the disease. She is also this year’s teen honoree at the event.   

The run begins and ends at the Hollywood Casino parking lot in Maryland Heights. Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday costumes or ugly holiday sweaters and tie bells to their shoes to create a chorus of jingles as they run or walk through the course. 

Emily has an entourage of roughly 30 runners, made up of family members, friends, teachers and coaches. She hopes “Emily’s Entourage” raises $5,000; so far she’s about halfway there. (To donate, go to jbr.org/stlouis/emilysentourage.)

Entry fees start at $20 for kids and $35 for adults. Register online at JBR.org/StLouis or call 314-447-4881.

Embracing clean energy

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Jill Rosenblum Tidman, who is bringing her documentary “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution” to the St. Louis International Film Festival at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at the Tivoli Theatre. (For a list of SLIFF films with special Jewish interest see Page 14.)

Tidman, who celebrated her bat mitzvah at Traditional Congregation and graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 1990, produced the film with Jamie Redford (Robert’s son). Tidman also serves as executive director of the Redford Center, based in San Francisco, which works to harness the impact of storytelling through film and new media to increase awareness about social and pressing environmental issues.

Tidman says the documentary tells the story of the people and companies that are creating jobs, turning profits and making communities stronger and healthier across the United States by pioneering clean-energy solutions. 

Jamie Redford, serving as the audience’s surrogate, learns how clean energy works and what the ongoing changes in energy production and consumption mean on a personal level. 

Tidman, whose parents Sharon and Jeffrey Rosenblum still live in Olivette, will be doing a Q&A after the film  with St. Louis Ward 28 Alderwoman Heather Navarro, who is the executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (other experts might join them). The hope is to spark a conversation about clean energy and what is going on in St. Louis. 

St. Louis’ Board of Alderman on Friday, Oct. 27, passed a resolution for the city to use 100 percent clean energy by 2035.

“This movement is happening all over the country, so the film becomes a support to those efforts, broadening them, keeping the conversations going, and educating audiences about the opportunity in moving the community in this direction,” said Tidman, who lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two young children. “It’s a thrill and a gift to bring the work home.”

I asked Tidman how the environmental policies of  President Donald Trump’s  administration — from slashing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement — are affecting renewable energy efforts.

“Yes, there are some things the administration is doing that could be really destructive (and) slow things down,” she said, “but truly the opportunities for the whole clean energy industry, the blossoming of it, has happened as a grass-roots effort. It’s people who want to take these steps in their own life demand the choice of clean energy over dirty energy. 

“We are finally at a point with the clean energy industry that it is cost competitive. That’s why it started to take off as it has. It’s become a successful economic choice, which is why even with the federal government doing a lot of things to disrupt the progress, there is so much being done at the community and state level.”

For anyone not able to see the film on Friday, “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution” will air on HBO starting Dec. 11.

For more information about the film and clean energy efforts, go to redfordcenter.org

 

Proud to be Jewish

Jack Cohen is proud, happy and thankful to be Jewish. So proud, in fact, that with the help of contributions from 18 others, he wrote and published “Proud, Happy, and Thankful to be Jewish.”

Cohen, 83 and a retired engineer, was named a Jewish Light Unsung Hero in 2011.

“My inspiration really came from God,” Cohen said. “I pray every day, and my prayers always include a thank you to Hashem, to the blessings he has bestowed on me.”

Six years ago, Cohen suffered a serious heart attack. He was told to slow down, so he turned to writing. His first book, “She is Not Related to Him,” was based on discussion classes about creation that he had with students at his synagogue over the course of 25 years. Cohen was one of the founders of B’nai Torah, a Reform congregation in St. Charles County that disbanded in 2014 after roughly 30 years because of dwindling membership. At its peak, it had about 45 families. 

“I wondered if I could do a second book about Judaism,” he said. “I’m proud of being Jewish, but I didn’t know if there was enough material to make an interesting book about being proud to be Jewish. I wrote about 150 pages and realized it wasn’t enough. Then I woke up the following morning with the idea of including guest authors.

“When I had 18 responses, the magic number in Judaism, I knew it was beshert.

Twelve of the 18 contributors live in St. Louis. They include a poet, an artist, two rabbis and a Holocaust survivor sent by his parents to St. Louis at the age of 1. Each tells about his or her special connection to Judaism and why he or she is proud to embrace the religion.

For more information, email Cohen at [email protected] or visit https://metalbabemayhem.com/product/proud-happy-and-thankful-to-be-jewish/.