Ethan Berkovitz was just a normal, active kid. He loved riding his bike, skateboarding and rollerblading. Most of all, he had a passion for playing soccer and futsal, a type of indoor soccer. But at age 8, things once easy for Ethan became hard.
Ethan began experiencing pain in his legs, hands and wrists. He got fevers, couldn’t walk down stairs and started missing school a lot. To get answers, he endured many medical tests. Finally, a doctor at Cleveland Clinic diagnosed him with juvenile arthritis.
Despite having 11 severely swollen joints, Ethan was determined to try out the following week for the Solon Strikers, a travel soccer team. With encouragement from his doctor to stay active and his parents’ approval, he made the team.
But Ethan didn’t stop there. He also achieved his longtime goal of playing for the national U.S. Youth Futsal Team. Last summer, he was honored to represent his country when the team competed in the international playoffs in Costa Rica.
“When I was in pain, it was my passion for soccer and futsal that kept me going,” says Ethan.
Throughout the years, Ethan has tried several medications to relieve the symptoms associated with juvenile arthritis. Now 16 and a high school sophomore, he’s found success with biologic injections. He recalls being elated upon learning he would no longer suffer swollen joints. He hopes that one day he can go off his medicine and be in permanent remission.
Ethan and his family have engaged with the Arthritis Foundation in a big way. He was the youth honoree for Cleveland’s Walk to Cure Arthritis two years ago. Today, he’s a junior ambassador working to advance a new federal law to attract more pediatric rheumatologists, who are in short supply nationwide.
Ethan is grateful for the support the Arthritis Foundation has given him and other kids living with arthritis. “I don’t feel alone, “ he says. “And, I’m glad that research is always being done to make my life better.”