Weekly Feature

2012-04-05 / Local News

Raising awareness, one step at a time


Williams Williams Gina Williams considers herself a blessed woman.

Williams, of Lancaster, has been named the adult honoree of the Upstate New York chapter of the Arthritis Foundation’s Arthritis Walk in Rochester on May 12.

Williams, 44, was diagnosed in her late 30s with the autoimmune disease, for which there is no cure. She has been able to maintain her job as a teacher’s aide at John A. Sciole Elementary School in Lancaster, thanks in part, she said, to her supportive co-workers.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, honorees are selected “for their ability to portray a confident and positive image that carries an inspirational message, not only to those living with arthritis, but to the general public as well.”

Williams lives by that mantra.

For more than a decade, Williams was involved with the Lancaster/Depew Ponytails, where she coached girls softball. It took more than six months to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Her health problems forced her to retire from coaching.

“It takes awhile to adjust when you’re told that there’s no cure for what you have,” she said.

Williams has had to learn how to live with an illness with no visible symptoms, and all that brings with it: convincing people she is sick, learning to listen to her body when it needs a break and knowing when to ask for help.

She credits her husband, Mark, and daughter, Ruth, a junior at Lancaster High School, for keeping her motivated. Despite the challenges, Williams tries to maintain a positive attitude.

“I taught my girls when I coached them softball that no matter what struggles you have in life, no matter if it’s on the field or off, you have to keep trying. You have to keep working,” she said. “Then I said to myself, ‘I have to live what I taught those kids.’”

That’s what led her to work with the Arthritis Foundation. She has been asked to help organize a walk in the Buffalo area, something she’d like to make a reality.

She’ll be walking in May so she can “do a small part to help somebody else,” Williams said.

Those interested in donating in Williams’ honor may do so by going to www.kintera.org, click on “donate” and “donate to a participant” and enter Williams’ name.

(Story ideas for this feature can be sent to Colleen M. Farrell, Lancaster and Depew Bee Editor, Bee Publications, 5564 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14221 or call 204-4924.)

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