Most parents will do anything they can to help a son or daughter in pain. So when Rex Jr. and Jill Crouch’s two-year-old daughter, Taylor, fell and hurt her ankle, they applied ice and tried to comfort her. But when the swelling didn’t go down after a few days, they took her to a doctor.
That started a series of appointments, medical procedures and tests as this North Carolina couple took Taylor to a pediatrician, an orthopedist and, finally, a rheumatologist. The diagnosis was Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), a condition that causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness in children under the age of 16.
“We had never heard of JRA before,” said Rex. “So we stayed up all night reading about it and learning about different support groups.” That was three years ago, and since then Taylor has had steroid injections to avoid joint flare-ups, fluid removed from her knee to reduce swelling, and physical and occupational therapy to improve her range of motion.
“Taylor is very tough and a true fighter,” says Rex. “She’s a smart, five-year-old girl who never stops moving and likes to play soccer and T-ball. But you can tell she can’t run as well as the other kids because she doesn’t have the same range of motion.”
Rex, who is a mechanic by trade, thanks his close-knit family and his church for helping him and his immediate family (including Taylor’s two-year-old sister, Alley) get through a rough few years. Taylor is currently in remission, but continues to have multiple follow-up doctors’ appointments.
As a lawn mower racing enthusiast since 2006, Rex has found a way to give back to the community that has helped him so much. In 2011, Rex held a lawn mower race in his hometown of Ellerbe to raise money for the JRA Foundation. “The turnout was awesome, and we raised a lot of money,” he says.
In 2012, Rex’s local lawn mower racing organization joined the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association because, as he explains it, “USLMRA has been around for more than twenty years, and they really know what they’re doing.”
Over the past year, Rex has been planning the first national lawn mower race on the Ellerbe track to be held during the Memorial Day weekend on May 24 – 25, 2014. Besides adult lawn mower racing, the two-day event will have plenty of good food, a bounce house and playground, a special race for kids, some racing vendors and much more.
“My goal is to raise as much money as I can for the JRA Foundation, so they can do more research to help Taylor and other children,” says Rex. “Taylor is a blessing, and we pray for her every day as she battles this condition.”