Growing up on a farm, Patti helped bale hay and walk soybeans, among other chores. She was one of six siblings, and they all helped on the farm when they were young. Patti was proud of her strength; being a farmer’s daughter taught her physical and internal strength. In her early twenties, Patti started experiencing extreme pain in her feet and then other areas in her body. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly after.
When Patti began her career at Schneider Electric’s DTN/The Progressive Farmer, an agricultural information company, she used lunch breaks to rest. If she had any activities planned after work, she would have to go home and rest first. The pain of arthritis made even daily activities a struggle. Morning stiffness made getting out of bed in the morning a difficult task. Patti wasn’t, and still isn’t, afraid to ask for help, and she uses that as an opportunity to educate people about arthritis.
After marrying her high school sweetheart, Patti longed to have a baby. The many medications she took to control her arthritis made the process of becoming pregnant very difficult. Patti finally decided to give up on her dream of having a child, but she has new dreams and has moved on.
After eight years and 19 medications, Patti’s pain is finally under control, and she no longer has pain on a daily basis. Patti’s husband, friends, family and “furry” babies enrich her life and bring her joy. Patti enjoys bowling with her husband and friends in a weekly league. She and her husband also enjoy visiting their cabin on the Elkhorn River to rest and recuperate after the work week.
Patti began volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation over 20 years ago, “I feel strongly that God gave me this disease for a reason and that reason is to educate people about arthritis and help others who also have it.” Patti is a previous recipient of the “William M. Kizer Light of Wellness Award” presented by the Wellness Council of the Midlands. She believes the most rewarding part of volunteering is to see someone’s despair and fright be replaced with knowledge and optimism.