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Community Partnership

Champion for Community

Jennifer Olson, Southern Illinois Region

More than $70,000 raised to fight arthritis

For Commercial Relationship Manager Jennifer Olson, her passion for helping people with arthritis is a personal one. Several years ago, Jennifer attended a luncheon to learn about the Arthritis Walk, where she was motivated by the enthusiasm of the walk committee members. Jennifer had been invited to the luncheon by her own mentor, Mona Kerns, who has had arthritis since she was 19.

Says Jennifer, “Mona models the philosophy of 'service over self.' So when people ask me why I got involved with arthritis, I simply say, 'because Mona asked me to.' When someone inspires you, it is impossible to say 'no.'"

That inspiration led Jennifer to begin volunteering for the Arthritis Foundation and specifically the Arthritis Walk four years ago. In 2010, Jennifer chaired the Southern Illinois Arthritis Walk for the first time. With a record number of teams, the walk raised $35,000 and beat all previous fundraising records. With Jennifer as chair again in 2011, the event exceeded $39,000, leading it to become the largest grossing walk in Illinois outside of Chicago. Jennifer will return as the walk chair in 2012 and says she can’t wait to break another record.

Jennifer feels her support of the Arthritis Foundation enables her to make a difference for others in a number of ways. She notes that along with seeking a cure and improvements in medicines, the Arthritis Foundation provides direct services in her community – such as therapeutic exercise classes and resources for the newly diagnosed.

“I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to give what we have – time, talents, items, money, whatever we can spare – because by sharing our surplus, we can truly appreciate what we have.”


Jennifer's other volunteer activities:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake planning committee
  • Carbondale Chamber of Commerce ambassador
  • Bank on Marion (helped launch program for unbanked with financial education component)
  • SIH Foundation volunteer