The National Psoriasis Foundation was created in 1967 by volunteers. For more than 50 years, patients, families, friends, scientists and health care providers have pitched in to help our cause. Volunteering takes many forms, from following us on Facebook to running with Team NPF to sharing your story with the people who represent you at the state and federal levels.
In this series, you’ll meet a crew who, in their own quiet, steady way, have been working hard to help everyone with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Today: Derek and Isaac Schujahn.
Derek Schujahn, from Franklin, Tennessee, knows all too well that psoriatic disease can impact a whole family. His youngest son, Isaac, who is about to turn 18, was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 6.
The roller coaster of treatments – finding one that works and starting the whole process over again when a drug stops working – has been physically and emotionally exhausting.
Watching his son feel isolated has been hard for Derek. There have been many nights over the past 12 years when he prayed he could take his son’s place. “As a dad, you reach a point where you feel completely helpless,” he says.
In order to do something – and get himself back into shape – Derek signed up for a triathlon. And to keep himself motivated, he dedicated his race to his son by raising money for Team NPF.
In the months leading up to the event, Derek woke up before sunrise to run, ride his bike and swim as much as possible. His training paid off, as he finished the triathlon in just over three hours and raised $500.
When Isaac first learned about his dad’s fundraising efforts, he was concerned about drawing attention to his psoriasis. But seeing his dad’s hard work and perseverance changed that perspective.
“I’m really proud of him,” says Isaac. “Because [training] is something he hasn’t done in so long.”
While Isaac isn’t quite ready to join his dad at the next triathlon, he will be there to give him the emotional support (and go for the occasional early-morning jog with him).
Photo: Morgan Nagle