Students at Cranbrook Schools rally behind classmate suffering from rare illness

Family of sophmore at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills expects she will be diagnosed with rare auto-immune disease

Published On: May 08 2012 06:04:34 PM EDT   Updated On: May 08 2012 07:14:52 PM EDT

A Cranbrook Schools student used to love playing sports, but she can no longer play them because of her illness.

Anna Winegarden has not received an official diagnosis, but her family expects doctors to diagnose her with juvenile scleroderma and dermatomyositis when they meet in New York later this week.

Tuesday afternoon, Winegarden's classmates surprised her with a birthday party. She will be 16 later this month.

"It's just really touching to know that they care this much," said Winegarden.

Winegarden tries to go to school at least three days a week. Her illness won't let her do any more than that.

"I've had to give up sports and instruments and my grades are also have been going down," said Winegarden.

Anna's mother, Jennifer Winegarden, is a hospice doctor. She also suffers from multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Her own illness helps her understand what her daughter is going through.

"A girl who was like, just a fantastic player in volleyball and ice hockey and all As in her grades and constantly doing things at church just all of a sudden just couldn't get through a day," said Jennifer Winegarden.

Winegarden struggles with daily tasks many might take for granted.

"Getting out of bed is extremely hard because I finally fell asleep and everything hurts when I wake up, my muscles ache, my joints ache, my head hurts," said Winegarden.

Students at Cranbrook don't plan to stop with Winegarden's birthday party. They also plan to show their support by raising money and awareness for auto immunue diseases.

"It's ok to struggle, because not everyone is perfect," said Winegarden.

Winegarden is sharing her struggles in a blog. If you would like to read it, click here.