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Prowten image"I am amazed at the passion and dedication of UHN's researchers and clinicians to find a cure today, to help people tomorrow," says David Prowten, the new Executive Director of the Arthritis and Autoimmunity Research Centre Foundation (AARCF). Before joining UHN this past spring, Prowten spent just over five years as national vice-president of fundraising and communications for the Arthrit​is Society.

So he is no stranger to the cause, but his transition to the hospital side of things has still managed to bring a few surprises: "I feel like we are closer to the ground. We can truly connect with donors and patients, and demonstrate the impact their support can make to research and results."

The AARCF is a small group, and Prowten is well aware of their small numbers compared to the breadth of UHN. Which is likely why he's been even more amazed by the amount of support the team receives across the organization. He feels they're valued and respected, and appreciates the chance to tap into expertise on any number of things—even something as simple as technical help—which leaves the team better able to focus on fundraising efforts.

He is equally impressed with his staff and Board at AARCF: "It's a very supportive board, and a great team, so it's been fun. We all see lots of opportunities." With a goal to double the foundation's fundraising revenue in the next three years, finding those opportunities is critical.

Like many people who work in fundraising, Prowten is motivated by a personal connection—his daughter, Sarah, now 11, was diagnosed with arthritis when she was just two years old. He lives with the illness every day.

"Arthritis is a journey, and it affects our whole family," he explains. "She requires regular medications and doctor's appointments; and since her immune system is suppressed, even a regular cold hits her harder than the rest of our family. This means our work-life balance becomes even harder."

Work-life balance takes on a different meaning too though, when he considers the impact his line of work can bring to his family.

"This is a unique opportunity to have my career align with helping my daughter and potentially her kids. It is very motivating that research advances could help Sarah. I'd love it if we could find a way to turn it off."

Prowten's personal experience with arthritis also underscores one of his key goals, and challenges, at the foundation—dispelling the myth that arthritis is a disease of the elderly.

Beat Arthritis logoThe reality is that people of all ages and backgrounds live with the disease every day. It's a serious, ongoing condition, but it has a low profile. Prowten is here to see that change.

Learn more about arthritis work at UHN and AARCF fundraising at www.be​atarthritis.ca.​

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