Local runner to tackle ‘Joints in Motion’ marathon again

Bill Michl is challenging people in the district to help raise both funds and awareness for arthritis—a crippling disease that affects more than four million Canadians. And he’s promising a big payoff for their help.
“If we can raise the money by July 1, I’m going to do the Canada Day parade in a bikini,” Michl pledged. “And the top fundraiser will get to do my hair and makeup.”
Michl is participating in the “Joints in Motion” marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii this year, and must raise $5,300.
“Joints in Motion” is an annual series of marathons to support the Arthritis Society. Other marathon locations this year include Lausanne, Switzerland, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Orlando, Florida.
Last year, Michl ran the marathon in Dublin, Ireland, and had to raise $5,000.
Now the stakes are a little higher, and he’s counting on local communities to lend a hand.
Pledge forms are available at Taggs Source for Sports, Bonnie Blue, and the Country Corner Cafe in Stratton, or by contacting Michl directly.
The avid runner is hoping his dare will mobilize the public to help in the cause.
“Public humiliation: there’s nothing better for raising funds,” he laughed.
But arthritis is no laughing matter to Michl.
“My mom suffered from arthritis all her life,” he said. “She had polio when she was younger. Polio left her with arthritis. It just got worse and worse to where she couldn’t do anything.”
Michl’s mother passed away in December 2003.
“I thought this would be my way to give back,” he added.
The “Joints in Motion” marathon is 42 km (26.2 miles) and requires month of training and discipline. The Arthritis Society provides a training program for runners, as well as tips on injury prevention and nutrition for endurance athletes.
Michl noted all money raised locally will stay here. The Arthritis Society supports research and therapy relating to arthritis, and can provide sufferers with aides to help their quality of life.
None of the money is used to pay for the marathon. The Arthritis Society gets corporate sponsors to pay for the airfare and accommodations of the runners.
Michl has chosen local resident Melvin Haukaas as his arthritis hero. A runner’s hero is the person they’re running for.
“It puts a face on what arthritis does to people,” Michl said. “I worked with him for quite a few years and saw what kind of shape he was in.”
Haukaas said he was pleased to have been chosen.
“I’m honoured, because I am an arthritis survivor,” he said.
Haukaas was stricken overnight with rheumatoid arthritis in 1975.
“It was devastating, chronic pain,” he said. “My physical abilities were limited. I had to go on long-term disability in 1990, at the age of 48.”
“The pain is so bad, it makes you not want to do anything,” Michl noted. As a result, many people who suffer from arthritis avoid leaving their homes and become disconnected from the community.
“That’s how arthritis takes over,” he added.
In 2000, Haukaas was selected to participate in early trials of a new medication, Remicade.
“It gave me immediate relief of pan and slowed the progression of the disease,” he noted.
While arthritis has caused permanent damage to his hands, feet, and elbows, Haukaas is now able to live a more active life. He makes a point of cycling 8-9 km every day.
“I have regained some strength and agility,” he noted. “I don’t predict the weather anymore.”
Michl noted that while arthritis is very common, it doesn’t get the same attention that cancer or heart disease get.
“People die from arthritis too, but nobody seems to realize the number of people affected by it,” he said.
“People with arthritis have to be more outspoken,” Haukaas added.
To find out how to help, contact Michl at 274-1329, or his daughter Teila in Stratton at 483-5483. And remember to bring a camera to the parade on July 1.