Because he’s so young, many are surprised when they learn that 38-year-old Derek Klawitter has osteoarthritis. They’re even more surprised, he said, when they learn he was diagnosed at 29.

Once a very active person, the Carleton Place resident is expected to need a new knee by the time he’s 40.

Not one to let his condition get him down, Klawitter and his wife, Noella, led yesterday’s inaugural Arthritis Walk in Ottawa at Vincent Massey Park to share two important messages.

Contrary to the belief that exercise and active living will exacerbate the condition, “exercise and an active lifestyle will actually help,” said Jason Hussak, manager of community engagement for the Arthritis Society in Ottawa. “It maintains healthy joints and reduces stress.”

Another myth is that it primarily affects people who are older.

“It affects people of all age groups,” Hussak said. “Sixty per cent of sufferers are under the age of 65.”

The $10,400 raised yesterday goes towards research for improving treatment, support programs and services for arthritis sufferers.