Student overcomes arthritis; earns scholarship

Monday, May 9, 2011

Senior Chris Swanson is used to overcoming obstacles. For that, he has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship.

Swanson of Savage, was named one of the 2010 Rheumatoid Arthritis Family Scholarship Program winners.

Now 23, Swanson was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when he was an active 16-year-old. The disease forced him to stay home and miss more than 50 days of school, but his inner strength kept him moving forward.

Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Swanson counted his blessings, especially his family.

"We are only limited by what we allow to hold us back," he said. "With unwavering faith and determination, I have found a way to achieve my goals at all costs."

Swanson set his expectations high. He has earned a black belt in martial arts and played on his high school's varsity lacrosse team during his senior year — this after spending two years on crutches.

And Swanson didn't only have to deal with his own illness. His mother, a nurse and one of the leaders of his support network, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Chris helped care for his mother every step of the way through her treatment, just as she had done for him.

Today, both Swanson, an accounting major who expects to graduate fall 2011, and his mother have battled their diseases into remission.

"Looking for the positive side of every situation truly pays off," Swanson said. "The time you have with the ones you love matters the most above all else, and projecting kindness outward into the world can never steer a person down the wrong path."

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