As Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month begins in July, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Natalie Decker is set to take a stance on promoting awareness in a major way.
The Arthritis Foundation, which has partnered with the 24-year-old driver before, has announced that the Xfinity Series driver is being named a Champion Ambassador, to raise awareness of leading a full life with arthritis.
“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.”
Decker was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) at birth. The active lifestyle she often shares via social media may look positive and well, but her arthritis remains a consistent issue in her day-to-day life. As a child, the Wisconsin driver faced difficulties from simple tasks such as straightening her arms. Finding the proper medical attention for the disorder also proved to be a challenge. As she entered adulthood, her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has gotten “exponentially worse,” compared to the pain felt as a child.
It was September 2019 when Decker went public with her own battle with rheumatoid arthritis, sharing her story via social media and on YouTube.
The video led to a sponsorship from The Arthritis Foundation at Homestead in 2019 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Additionally, Decker launched a clothing line in March of this year with proceeds benefitting the foundation.
Decker has shared her journey with RA on social media on multiple occasions. During a medical visit in February, she shared a video of receiving injections in her knee to help relieve the consistent pain she experiences.
I wanna share this video of me getting shots in my knees to help with pain from my Arthritis because I want all of you to remember to be kind and treat others how you want to be treated because you never know the pain someone is fighting! pic.twitter.com/GhqjHvFQ8i
— Natalie Decker (@NatalieRacing) February 13, 2021
Decker has been transparent with her story and wants to inspire others, especially those younger, to understand that having arthritis is not something to be embarrassed about.
“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.”
The autoimmune disorder, which causes inflammation and pain in the joints of the human body, clearly can be a major feat of adversity to overcome as a race car driver. With over 60 starts in NASCAR-sanctioned series, Decker is proving that she’s a fighter and that those with RA can do incredible things.
“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,” Decker explained. “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.”
As a part of the ambassadorship, the Wisconsin driver will share her experiences using a brand-new app from The Arthritis Foundation, called Vim Pain Management. The app is designed to help those with arthritis by utilizing personalized assessments of the user to create user-specific activities, exercises, diet recommendations, and treatment options. Decker will also take part in the foundation’s National Juvenile Arthritis Conference later in July, and the free National Juvenile Arthritis Camps, which will be held in a virtual manner amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the midst of her NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Decker is running a partial schedule in the No. 23 Camaro with backing from Red Street Records. She’ll make her driving return this weekend at Road America.