A man on a mission

A local man is embarking on a massive effort to bring attention to a disease that, to be blunt, does not often stand in the limelight.

There are 100 different kinds of arthritis that, according to the National Arthritis Foundation, impact 53 million adults and 300,000 children of all ages, genders and races. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. These are overwhelming facts that underscore the need for a more informed and educated public.

With that in mind, just more than one week ago in Seaside, Oregon, 61-year-old Camas resident Tom Baltes began his 4,260 mile bicycling journey across the United States. His goals are to bring attention to arthritis as a health issue, and raise funds for the National Arthritis Foundation.

Why does he really do it? The answer is simply that arthritis is a condition he has seen the impacts of first hand. His brother and sister both suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the joint lining, and causes swelling that can be painful and eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

Amazingly, Baltes suffers from mild osteoarthritis but he is determined to not let it get in the way of finishing his cross-country mission, during which he hopes to raise $30,000 along the way.

His plans are profiled on page B1 of today’s Post-Record.

It won’t be an easy task, and as Baltes has already discovered there will be many bumps (literally and figuratively) along the way. But he is without a doubt up to the challenge. Follow his journey at www.tomsbikeride.wordpress.com.