Sarah Weller looks and acts like any other 11-year-old.
The Red Lion fifth-grader likes to play soccer, piano and basketball. But after she was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis when she was 2, her life hasn't been an average one: She takes four medications a day for the chronic disease, and sometimes flare-ups prevent her from doing what she wants to do.
"It's really tough, because sometimes you can't play with your friends because it hurts a lot," Sarah said.
Honored: And even though she's battling a flare-up in her ankle, the power of medicine will allow her to participate in this year's Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis as its youth honoree.
The pain, swelling and stiffness that come with a flare-up makes it hard for Sarah to walk, but her mom, Brenda, said other people don't typically notice.
"I think one of the important things that a lot of people don't know is that a person with arthritis looks normal," she said.
In effect, she said, people with the disease are sometimes unfairly expected to do everything that everyone else can. Sometimes -- especially with changes in the weather -- certain tasks are easy one day and impossible the next, she said.
Sarah's been in and out of remission a few times, but in the past year, she's struggled with carpal tunnel in her hands and tendinitis in her right ankle. But Sarah said she and her family have participated in arthritis walks and fundraising events over the years.
And being the Jingle Bell Run/Walk honoree this year is a good way to raise awareness, she said.
"I feel that it's a great opportunity because it's showing that I care about my arthritis, and I care about other people, too," Sarah said.
Event details: The event is the third annual one to be held in York, said Marlena Carnicella, community development manager for the Arthritis Foundation's local chapter.
It steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday at WellSpan Health's Apple Hill Health Campus. In addition to the 5K, a costume contest, prizes and activities for children round out the event, and it's expected to raise more than $40,000 to support local Arthritis Foundation programs, services and research.
The dog-friendly event is held outside in tents, but if the forecast is for cold weather, the tents will be heated, Carnicella said.
Kids like Sarah help the foundation raise awareness of the 300,000 youth in America with the disease, she said.
"It's inspiring to know all these children with arthritis (who help the cause)," she said.