Natalie Decker, of Eagle River, who has had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) since birth, has chosen the Arthritis Foundation as her charity of choice, announcing it on her social media channels and will again — in person to her fans — at the Homestead race on Nov. 15.

Arthritis is the No. 1 cause of disability, impacting one in four Americans, including nearly 300,000 youths, and Decker is calling all fans, friends and family to help take a stand against the disease and asking them to stand by her side by buying a spot on Decker’s hood for the Homestead paint scheme. 

In addition to getting a name on the hood, the purchase includes multiple autographed items including a Lionel die-cast of the Homestead truck, a limited edition T-shirt, a personalized HERO car, a limited edition poster and the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. 

“We are honored and excited for Natalie to stand by our side and inspire people with arthritis, especially kids in our community who need a leader to look up to,” said Sara Peterson, executive director of the Wisconsin division of the Arthritis Foundation. 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, one to two in every 1,000 children are affected with the genetic condition. The real issue is that many times, there is no exterior visibility of the condition. 

“There are so many difficulties with the condition I have. When I was younger, one of the biggest things I struggled with was my arms would lock at a 45-degree angle, and I couldn’t get them all the way straight,” explained Decker. “Another big struggle was the meth­o­trexate I had to take. This was a chemo drug, and when taken, it made me so sick. As a whole, the arthritis stunted my growth, amongst other things.”

Knowing the difficulties and being able to overcome them to get to her dreams, Decker is excited to be able to help others overcome the struggles she had.

All the proceeds from the fundraiser will help raise awareness and funds for the Arthritis Foundation’s mission of providing the resources and support — like JA Camps — for people and youths with arthritis, and ultimately finding a cure for the disease.

Additionally, after the race in Homestead, the hood of Decker’s No. 54 DGR-Crosley Toyota Tundra will be auctioned off, as well as her Fyshe Fire Suit from the race, Arai Helmet and race gloves.

Fans can buy their spot on Decker’s hood for the Ford Ecoboost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway by visiting nataliedeckerinc.com/arthritis-foundation/. Fans also can take part in the auction and additional fundraising efforts that will be announced closer to the race.

“Thank you to all my amazing fans and those who take part in the fundraiser! Supporting this cause means so much to me, as it has been a big part of my whole life. We can make a serious impact in these children’s lives with your help!” said Decker.

For more information, visit nataliedeckerinc.com to join Team Natalie Decker by donating to the Arthritis Foundation.