About The Climb
My name is Jeffrey Gottfurcht. Eight years ago, at the age of 28, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (“RA”).
For several years I kept this affliction a secret from my family and friends. I felt embarrassed and did not want anyone feeling sorry for me. As you can imagine, the burden of keeping this disease a secret was frustrating and caused me to feel depressed. I was in a constant state of despair. Questions ran through my head like: would I be able to pick up my children, would I be able to play games with them, and would I be able to dance with my wife. Selfishly, I wondered about my own passion, mountain climbing. Would I be able to continue my quest to climb mountains around the world?
Most heartbreaking though are the children I meet in the doctor’s waiting rooms. During my treatments, I am witness to the greater form of pain juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (“JRA”) causes young children. While I am fortunate to still be mobile and leading a relatively active life, children afflicted with JRA do not live a normal life by society’s standards. Their lives are accompanied by constant pain and physical limitations. Seeing children afflicted with JRA inspired me to stop feeling sorry for myself. It also compelled me to do something to help these kids. With the love and support of my family and friends, I founded the Jeffrey Gottfurcht Children’s Arthritis Foundation to create amazing memories that these children can take with them down their own personal path of life. I may not be able to make JRA go away, but I know I can help inspire, bring happiness and fulfill the dreams of many of the 300,000 children afflicted with rheumatic diseases.
The mission of the Foundation is to make dreams come true for children living with Juvenile Arthritis (JA). JRA is an often misunderstood disease. It is a lifelong battle of pain, joint destruction and deformity and results in the progressive loss of mobility. However, most people naturally associate this disease with arthritis that naturally comes with the process of aging. As a result, children with these diseases are often forgotten and left on the sidelines to watch other kids walk, run, jump and play. There is currently no cure.
It is most important to me that children do not give up on their dreams. I am living this message, and with your help, together we can make a difference. The Jeffrey Gottfurcht Children’s Arthritis Foundation will focus on making dreams come true for children living with this debilitating disease. The dream can be a trip to Disneyland, or perhaps to meet a celebrity or professional athlete. Whatever a child can dream up is a dream worth pursuing. In fulfilling these dreams, the Foundation also serves as a means to bring awareness and education of rheumatic diseases while giving hope to these children and their families.
My dream is to be the first person with RA to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents.
Please help us as we embark on this endeavor. Together we can make a difference for children living with juvenile arthritis and the friends and family who support them. Together we can inspire this young generation to hold on to their dream until a cure is found.