Supporting for 50 years!
Convention 2017 marks the 50th year of partnership between AOII and the Arthritis Foundation. More than 50 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis—that’s 1 in 5 people over the age of 18. Throughout this year, AOII and the Arthritis Foundation will promote a 50 for 50 campaign honoring AOII’s 50 years of support for the more than 50 million arthritis sufferers.
Alpha Omicron Pi adopted the Arthritis Foundation and the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society as the Fraternity’s international philanthropy at Convention in 1967. Archival records state the philanthropy was chosen because a serious form, rheumatoid arthritis, affected women (frequently between ages 20 and 45) three times as often as men. Research dollars were desperately needed because arthritis was the number one crippling disease, and causes and cures were unknown. At that time, combined government and Arthritis Foundation research funds were still less than one dollar per victim per year in the U.S. Additionally, arthritis education was necessary because dishonest practices in medicine were widespread, robbing arthritis victims of more than $400 million a year.
In October 1968, the Fraternity presented its first arthritis research grant in the amount of $5,000 to Dr. Naomi Rothfield, Chief of Rheumatology at the University of Connecticut. The grant was designated for research on systemic lupus erythematosus, the most common form of lupus and one of more than 100 arthritis-related autoimmune conditions. More than 90% of lupus sufferers are women.
The next year, Dr. Gail Ann Theis, instructor and post-doctorial fellow from New York University was the recipient of a $6,000 grant for research in immunology.
Each year since, grants have been awarded for research in numerous areas such as rheumatoid arthritis, virus studies, antigen tolerance, blood component studies, ACL studies and much more. Through the years, AOII chapters and members have raised and contributed millions of dollars to the Arthritis Foundation for research, education and juvenile arthritis camps and conferences. AOII collegiate and alumnae chapters annually support Walk to Cure Arthritis events in the spring and Jingle Bell Run events in the winter. Chapters hold local Strike Out Arthritis! fundraising events, volunteer at arthritis camps, collect pandas for juvenile arthritis conferences, promote AOII Goes Blue awareness days and attend Strike Out Arthritis! with Major League Baseball games. These efforts have led to tremendous growth in contributions to the Arthritis Foundation, as this past year alone, AOII contributed $575,000.
Arthritis remains the number one cause of disability in the United States, but advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease have been remarkable. Arthritis sufferers are living better lives today than those who faced the disease 50 years ago. AOII is proud of our contributions and our 50-year partnership with the Arthritis Foundation. We are excited to celebrate 50 for 50!