Rio Rancho 14-year-old battling arthritis inspires holiday 5K

Community Reports
Dacia Marquez

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – At first glance, 14-year-old Dacia Marquez looks like your average high school athlete. She has a big bright spirit and an even bigger aspiration to join the United State’s Air Force as a pilot, but there’s another layer to Dacia’s life that’s almost invisible.

At the age of two, the Rio Rancho High School freshman was diagnosed with JRA or Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. A painful disease that affects a person’s joints, and in Dacia’s case, her eyes. Her mom, Holly Sanchez-Thoms, says without treatment, Dacia would go blind.

For years, Dacia’s family avoided giving her Humira injections to help with the pain, because over a period of time the combination of that and another necessary steroid can cause lymphoma.

Other treatments worked for a while, but as Dacia got older, her mom says the disease came back with a vengeance. So her family decided it was best to start injections with hopes of reducing her medication in the future. Now Dacia takes one weekly and one bi-weekly injection to help with her pain, and to keep her in tip-top shape to run in track and cross-country, and to swim on her high school teams.

“Don’t be afraid to take chances because there’s always a away out.”

Dacia Marquez, Rio Rancho High School Freshman

Regardless of the pain from every weekly injection, and the long process of every MRI, and every blood test, Dacia has proven resilient. She says with her siblings and teammates by her side, she knows there’s nothing she can’t overcome.

“Just be brave, no matter what, just keep going.”

Dacia Marquez, Rio Rancho High School Freshman

It’s that bright spirit and positive outlook that has the Arthritis Foundation recognizing Dacia Marquez as the 2019 Youth Honoree for this year’s Jingle Bell 5k at Tiguex Park on December 8.

The proceeds raised will go towards research through the Arthritis Foundation, and to help kids with arthritis attend camps where they can meet and interact with other kids experiencing the same things.

Dacia’s mom says any participation in this festive fundraiser will show kids living with arthritis that their communities support them.

“It also brings national attention to the fact that kids with arthritis are just as competitive and just as awesome.”

Holly Sanchez-Thoms, Dacia’s Mom

If you’re interested in running or walking in the 5K next month, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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