Young Pennsylvania Boy Raises Thousands for Kawasaki Disease

Ten-year-old Pennsylvania boy Josh Shorb has been hard at work raising money — and awareness — for a very rare disease he has, in an ultimate show of paying it forward and being your own best advocate. 

Talk about making his summer count!

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease is a very rare condition that involves the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes, and most often affects children under the age of 5. The cause is unknown, but if the symptoms are recognized early, kids with Kawasaki disease can fully recover within a few days. Untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart.

Kawasaki disease is most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent, but can affect all ethnic groups.

Kawasaki disease can’t be prevented, but usually has telltale symptoms and signs that appear in phases. The first phase, which can last for up to 2 weeks, usually involves a fever that lasts for at least 5 days.

Other symptoms include:

  • severe redness in the eyes
  • a rash on the stomach, chest, and genitals
  • red, dry, cracked lips
  • swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumps (called “strawberry tongue”)
  • sore, irritated throat
  • swollen palms of the hands and soles of the feet with a purple-red color
  • swollen lymph nodes

The Storm Before the Calm

Josh was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease when he was only three years old, when his mother noticed little Josh’s eyes were bloodshot, his lips and hands were swollen, and skin was flaking off his reddened cheeks.

After a visit to the ER and testing to confirm his diagnosis, Josh was admitted to York Hospital Pediatrics for three days for an Intravenous Immunoglobulin treatment.
His mother Melissa recounts the agony of those early days.

“It was hard. You’re sitting there watching your child, and you’re hoping that the treatments that they’re giving him is going to save his life. You’re being told all of the worst things that can possibly happen to him, and you’re watching him sit there and struggle.”

Three long days later, Josh recovered!

Josh, the Comeback Kid

Cut to June 14th of this year — Josh standing on the FNB Field, throwing out the first pitch, to honor his fundraising efforts toward the American Heart Association.

Talk about a comeback!

Josh has raised more than $6,000 in a three-year period, becoming the top fundraiser in central Pennsylvania for the Kids Heart Challenge. He raised more than $2,500 in 2019 alone — the highest figure at his elementary school.

“I want to give money back for research to figure out what causes it,” said Josh. “To help other kids with heart problems to get better.”

Josh only has few limitations in his life because of Kawasaki disease. Extreme cold or heat can affect his skin, and he has to limit physical activity and sports — plus he has follow-up visits to the doctor every three years.

But in exchange for arduous physical activity, he’s now an arduous advocate!

Wanting to spread information about Kawasaki disease, Josh began raising money for the American Heart Association about three years ago. And every year, Josh goes around to different organizations like the Mason Dixon Chapter of Alliance of Bikers Aimed at Education (ABATE), Fairfield Amvets Post 172 and Blue Ridge Sportmans Association, all of which made sizable donations to the cause.

Thank you Josh and the Shorb family for all you do!


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