The Arthritis Foundation today announced its formal partnership with NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Natalie Decker by naming her a Champion Ambassador to raise awareness of leading a full life with arthritis. The announcement of Decker’s ambassadorship coincides with the start of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month in July, which focuses on the arthritis community that is dearest to her heart.
“Natalie Decker has supported the Arthritis Foundation for years, and we’re so thrilled to make our partnership official,” said Ann M. Palmer, President and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. “She has overcome her chronic pain to find success in a male-dominated sport, and she gives hope to millions of people with arthritis that they can lead a full life.”
The 24-year-old racing phenom battles rheumatoid arthritis that began as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) at birth. Her active lifestyle on and off the racetrack has been underscored by a painful journey with arthritis: as a child, she had difficulty fully straightening her arms and faced challenges to find the right medication. Today, Decker says the pain and stiffness she feels as an adult are exponentially worse than when she was younger – and she’s committed to sharing her story to inspire others.
“Especially for the kids, I want to normalize that it’s okay to talk about their arthritis and the challenges they face,” said Decker. “Having arthritis can be incredibly isolating, and if I can help just one more person feel more supported and inspired, I’ve done my job.”
As an Arthritis Foundation Champion Ambassador, Decker will promote her experience using the Arthritis Foundation’s new Vim app and share regular updates with her followers about her successes and challenges completed within the goal-setting app. Her ambassadorship also includes participating in the Arthritis Foundation’s upcoming National Juvenile Arthritis Conference and National Juvenile Arthritis Camps, which are being held virtually this summer. Juvenile arthritis affects nearly 300,000 kids and teens in the United States.
Decker, who started racing in go-karts at 5, has forged her own path to becoming one of the top young drivers in the NASCAR scene. In 2020, she made history as the fastest finish for a female driver in the NASCAR Truck Series’ NextEra Energy 250 Race at Daytona International Speedway. Her record-breaking career has secured Decker a strong, loyal fan base.
“For me, it’s so important to use my platform to let others fighting similar battles know that they’re not alone, especially younger patients with forms of juvenile arthritis,” said Decker. “The Arthritis Foundation has already formed a wonderful network of support for patients of all ages, and this partnership will allow me to make even more meaningful connections with the arthritis community.”
Families can still register to be a part of the Arthritis Foundation’s free National Juvenile Arthritis Conference from July 22-25 by visiting: https://www.arthritis.org/events/ja-conference.
Registration is also still open for the free National Juvenile Arthritis Camp from August 3-5. For more information and to register visit: https://www.arthritis.org/events/ja-camps.