CHARACTER COUNTS

Notre Dame Prep LAX player uses experience with juvenile arthritis to help others

Nov 8, 2022, 5:10 AM
Andrew Roe (Photo courtesy Andrew Roe)...
Andrew Roe (Photo courtesy Andrew Roe)
(Photo courtesy Andrew Roe)

Lacrosse has a future name that fans should start getting used to.

Andrew Roe, a senior at Notre Dame Preparatory High School, has been one of the most dominant players on the field. He has been selected as an Under Armour All-American three consecutive times within the West Region and recently was awarded the Heisman High School Scholarship by his school for his excellence on the field and in the classroom.

All the success Roe has experienced over the last few years has not come without its challenges. The biggest: dealing with juvenile arthritis.

“It’s been something I’ve had to deal with for a long time,” Roe said. “I have pictures of me when I was really little with knee braces and everyone thought it was just a physical injury. It was very hard to learn that it was something autoimmune related.”

Two years ago, Roe was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of juvenile arthritis that causes inflammation within a person’s joints and can cause stiffness over time.

To combat the pain, Roe made monthly visits to Phoenix Children’s for medication and injections, trying to remain on the field playing lacrosse.

“I would push through [the pain] a lot of times, but I know I knew my body and there were certain days where I just couldn’t,” Roe said. “It was definitely a step back.”

Now, Roe has managed to control the pain and only requires a couple visits a year to get treatment, but it hasn’t stopped him from being actively involved in spreading awareness.

The Arthritis Foundation selected Roe as a junior ambassador. He has been featured in numerous stories from medical publications like the Spondylitis Association of America and has taken part in health fairs, fundraising runs and much more.

His involvement in so many areas takes up a lot of Roe’s free time, but he has enjoyed being an advocate for juvenile arthritis.

“It’s a part of my life that I just have a passion for,” Roe said. “It’s something that I’d like to pursue and keep doing.”

One of his biggest accomplishments is authoring his own children’s book, Archie Airplane Has Arthritis, filled with fun illustrations and a story that helps children learn how to deal with the illness.

“It was just something I hadn’t seen anyone do for juvenile arthritis,” Roe said. “I saw a couple books that had their characters who were children with arthritis. When I was a child my favorite movie was ‘Cars’ and I expanded on that and thought kids would relate more to an airplane.”

With graduation just around the corner, Roe is focused on the future. He is committed to Lindenwood University in Missouri to continue his success on the field in lacrosse. However, he plans to continue being involved with the various arthritis foundations tasked with helping children work through juvenile arthritis.

“It doesn’t define them and they’re not alone,” Roe said. “It’s just another part of your life. It’s not something that should control you or your mentality.”

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Notre Dame Prep LAX player uses experience with juvenile arthritis to help others