STUDIO CITY ( — Caitlin Ryan, the 15-year-old “Titanium Princess”, stopped by KCAL9 on Friday to discuss her experience with juvenile arthritis and help others learn how to get involved in the search for a cure.

At age 3, Caitlin Ryan was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own joints.

At first they thought the 3-year-old had the flu because she suffered from a stiff neck, high fever and a swollen knee, her mother Colleen said. But as time went on, her pain increased and she had difficulty with basic tasks, like picking up a pencil or going to the playground at school.

Her mother said she had pain and difficulty moving, and experienced sleepless nights and absences from school.

Now 15, Caitlin has had two hip replacements, earning her the nickname “Titanium Princess”.

Her mother says the surgeries, together with medication, have made an enormous difference. Despite some continued pain, Caitlin attends high school. During the summer, she goes to camp for kids with arthritis.

This year Caitlin will be taking dance in high school. She stays active with yoga and swimming.

In addition to representing the Arthritis Foundation in California, Caitlin went to Washington D.C. with her mother to meet with members of Congress and advocate for more funding for research to find a cure for arthritis.

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of Caitlin’s Princess Parade, which is the walking team she formed when she was 5. Together with family and friends, the group has raised more than $300,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.

There is a 1-mile or 3-mile option, and the event is non-competitive.

The 2013 Arthritis Walks kick off this weekend in the greater Los Angeles area:

  • Sunday, May 19th, 9:00 a.m., Orange County, campus of UC Irvine
  • Sunday, May 19th, 9:00 a.m., Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia
  • Saturday, June 1st, Corona, Inland Empire
  • Sunday, June 2nd, 9:00 a.m., next to the Santa Monica Pier

For more information on the Arthritis Foundation, visit their website.

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