West Des Moines Girl, 9, is Kid Captain for Iowa-Northwestern Game Saturday

Jacie Stewart is one of 50,000 children in the United States affected by debilitating autoimmune disorder.

A news release from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics:

Jacie Stewart, 9, daughter of Alisha and Chris Stewart of West Des Moines, Iowa, is Kid Captain for the Iowa Hawkeyes game against Northwestern Saturday, Oct. 27.

At age 4, Jacie was referred to UI Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that causes painful joint swelling, stiffness, and reduced motion. She also was diagnosed with celiac disease, a condition that affects people who cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains.

Celiac disease worsens juvenile idiopathic arthritis symptoms.

Pediatric rheumatology specialists at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital developed a treatment plan for Jacie, who initially spent several months in a wheelchair but today is active and well. She maintains a gluten-free diet and returns to Iowa City every four weeks for a medication infusion that keeps her disease in clinical remission.

Jacie’s story is available online. She started kindergarten in a wheelchair, but stunned her classmates and teachers 10 months later when she she was wheeled outside the school to meet the bus and stood up.

Since then, she has overcome several JIA-related health issues over the past several years, including temporary peripheral blindness caused by inflammation of the front of the eye. Today, Jacie maintains a gluten-free diet and returns to UI Children’s Hospital every four weeks for a medication infusion that keeps her disease in clinical remission. She’s an outstanding student, and she hopes to take ballet classes soon.

Jacie’s also busy with “Jacie’s Rainbow Art,” which helps raise awareness for JIA because, “there’s lots of other kids with arthritis,” she says.

Now in its fourth year, the Kid Captain program is a partnership between UI Children's Hospital and the Iowa Hawkeyes to honor pediatric patients and celebrate their inspirational stories.

Kid Captains have their individual stories told throughout the football season and receive a commemorative jersey. Home-game Kid Captains are honored at midfield before the start of the game. Away-game Kid Captains had the opportunity to attend the Sept. 15 Iowa home game.


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