Mariah Aquino-Truss loves to sing and dance, but the normally energetic child could barely walk two years ago.
Mariah, 7, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in September 2011, said her mother, Tory Aquino, 33, of Patterson Heights in Beaver County.
Mariah's medical treatment has helped her reclaim a normal childhood, but she still has bouts of pain.
"(I wish I would) feel better, and I won't have it anymore," Mariah said.
To raise awareness and money for the Arthritis Foundation of Pittsburgh, Mariah's family is hosting the second annual Mariah's Movers Carnival on Saturday at Brady's Run Lodge in Beaver Falls.
There will be pony rides, arts and crafts, face-painting, a reptile show and other activities. Businesses and individuals are donating money, services or goods to support the carnival, Aquino said.
Mariah's Carnival is the only local event of its kind, although other families and individuals volunteer to raise money for the foundation, said Allison Brenckle, program director.
Carnival-goers can sign up to join Mariah's Movers, a team that will participate in the 2013 Arthritis Walk on June 1 at SouthSide Works mall.
Last year, Mariah was a walk honoree, and her carnival and walk team raised $3,200 for the foundation, Aquino said.
A 2007 study by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 294,000 children, or 1 in 250, have arthritis or other rheumatologic conditions.
"Our mission is to let people know that children get arthritis, too," Aquino said.
Mariah began to experience pain in her hips in May 2011, but her mother thought it was the result of a fall at a neighbor's home.
Aquino took Mariah to a pediatrician twice, and after an X-ray revealed a 13 percent curvature in Mariah's spine, the doctor referred her to the orthopedic department at Children's Hospital. …