Steve Cardin has EDS, a connective tissue disease otherwise known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Cardin explains that there are six types of EDS and he has the hypermobility type, which is characterized by loose joints and chronic joint pain.
Cardin is also an avid bike rider who won’t let the instability of his joints and chronic pain get in his way to help others who suffer from this disease.
He runs a support group for EDS in Washington State and has linked up with a geneticist at the University of Washington.
For the last two years he has participated in the Arthritis Foundations People's Coast Classic and was recognized as an honoree during this year’s event which was held in mid-September.
Cardin had a goal of raising $2,500 for the People’s Coast Classic Arthritis Foundation and he exceeded his goal by almost $400. However, he is always looking for more donations.
“The research that the Arthritis Foundation is doing on pain management can be very beneficial to those with EDS. Also, arthritis affects millions of Americans including some close members of my family,” Cardin explained. “The CDC estimates that there are 50 million Americans with arthritis and 294,000 of those are under the age of 18. To me that is unacceptable and we need to do something to ease the suffering.”
Cardin has lived in Lake Stevens for the last two decades and was diagnosed just three years ago.
“I was diagnosed with EDS in 2009. On one hand I felt relieved to have a diagnosis but it was also scary not knowing what my future would hold,” he said. “EDS has different effects for different people, some people can hardly move or are wheelchair bound at a very young age, while others are able to live a more normal life but have chronic pain. EDS is considered an invisible illness, so even though a person has it they may not show outward signs.”
While having EDS means constant pain, Cardin doesn’t let himself wallow in self-pity. He not only rides his bike to raise money and awareness he even was part of a knock-off of “Call Me Maybe” the popular Carly Rae Jepsen song, with the Arthritis Foundations CEO.
“We made a video for the song "Call Me Maybe" with Dr. Jack Klippel, the CEO of the Arthritis Foundation lip syncing the song and a bunch of the riders dancing in the background. We had a great time making it. Also, the views were amazing and you get to see things that you might miss while traveling by car.”
You can watch the video on YouTube.
Keeping a positive attitude is so important to anyone who has a chronic disease and Cardin continues to work to keep that attitude by helping others and having fun.
“EDS has given me a different outlook on life. I try to focus my energy in a more positive direction, rather than dwelling on the negative. There is nothing I can do to change the fact that I have EDS so I just have to try to make the best of it,” Cardin said. “I live each day to it's fullest and cycling has helped me to enjoy life outdoors. I have met a lot of great people who have EDS through a local support group that I started shortly after I was diagnosed with EDS. I have also met a lot of great people within the Arthritis Foundation.”
Cardin is continuing to raise money through October and anyone can donate through his website at tapcc.kintera.org.
“The future is unknown. Positive attitude and exercise have helped me a lot over the past two years. I will continue to use my resources within the Arthritis Foundation in hopes to find better treatment and pain management of the osteoarthritis that is caused by EDS,” Cardin said.