PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A teenager was honored Saturday by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto for her continued efforts to find a cure for arthritis.

Rylee Ann Laya is one of 300,000 children with juvenile arthritis.

“End of fifth grade year about May, I started get this wrist pain. It just happened one morning and I was like ‘Oh, I must have sprained it or something, I don’t know,” Rylee said.

But, it wasn’t a sprain. Another doctor called it tendinitis. Six weeks of physical therapy didn’t work and it turns out she had arthritis.

Rylee, who lives in West Virginia, travels to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for her treatment because West Virginia is one of 11 states that does not have a pediatric rheumatologist.

She has raised more than $8,000 to fight the nation’s leading cause of disability.

“I hope to see that, when these doctors see that there’s no pediatric rheumatologist in the state, I hope that they see that this needs to change,” said Rylee. “I hope that some people even going into medical school see that this has to change, they want to make a difference.”

Mayor Peduto declared May Arthritis Awareness Month to honor the 14-year-old advocate.

The mayor also gave Rylee and her family a tour of the mayor’s office and City Council chambers along with Kristina Waltman of the Arthritis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania.

“I am one of many who can say that Riley Laya is a prime example of someone who needs our help,1 but also is someone who is willing to stand up and really fight for others who have arthritis,” Waltman said.

Earlier this month, Rylee joined with hundreds of other Arthritis Foundation advocates on Capitol Hill to represent the 52 million Americans living with arthritis.

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