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JOINT EFFORT ARTHRITIS WALK SLATED TO RAISE FUNDS IN MAY.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Volunteers both two- and four-legged gathered Friday to kick off an inaugural charity walk intended to raise funds for local arthritis sufferers.

The Santa Clarita Arthritis Walk, scheduled for May 15, is among dozens of fundraisers planned nationwide to benefit the Arthritis Foundation and shed light on the debilitating joint disease that afflicts about 66 million Americans.

It's the first time for the 5K event in Santa Clarita, where an estimated 55,000 are affected by arthritis, said Terri Soto, the walk's organizer.

``This is an untapped population,'' she said. ``We know it's such a family community. We want to give the families of Santa Clarita the opportunity to walk to make a difference.''

The walk's organizers include Mayor Cameron Smyth, City Councilwoman Laurene Weste and state Assemblyman Keith Richman, whose 38th District includes parts of the Santa Clarita Valley.

``I'm not just here to talk the talk,'' said Richman, R-Granada Hills. ``I'm going to walk the walk.''

A practicing doctor before he left for Sacramento, Richman said he has seen hundreds of patients - not just the elderly - afflicted with the disease.

``There are many debilitating forms of arthritis that affect children and individuals who are in the prime of their lives,'' he said.

The event is also for dogs, since arthritis also affects thousands of canines. The company that makes Rimadyl, an arthritis medicine for dogs, is among the sponsors.

A pit bull named Duke was present Friday to represent canine arthritis sufferers.

``He's here to represent all the pets who want to support their four- legged friends who have arthritis,'' said Brenda McClure, Duke's owner and the event chairwoman.

The Santa Clarita Arthritis Walk is scheduled for May 15 at Bridgeport Community Park, 2350 Bridgeport Lane in Valencia. Contact the Arthritis Foundation at (818) 995-7378 for more information.

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com

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2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Above, a group of walkers and volunteers, including local leaders, amble past the Bridgeport light tower, which will be part of the route. Below, Assemblyman Keith Richman, center, and Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth, rear right, chat during preparations for the inaugural fundraising walk. At left, Holy Cross Medical Center physical therapist Tom Burton gets a T-shirt from Terri Soto, senior director of the Arthritis Foundation's Santa Clarita Valley branch.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 9, 2005
Words:397
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