People to Watch

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Seth GinsbergPhotograph courtesy of Seth Ginsberg

Seth Ginsberg

Health Advocate

At 28 years old, Seth Ginsberg is not your typical arthritis sufferer. He has lived with a form of the condition called spondylarthritis for half of his young life. Simple activities such as climbing stairs or opening a jar cause him a great deal of pain. Every two or three weeks, the condition flares to the point where every joint in his body aches.

Fortunately, contracting arthritis isn’t the only thing Ginsberg did at an early age. Since he was a freshman in college 10 years ago, the Ramapo native has served as president of CreakyJoints, a Web site he conceptualized and founded as a source of support for arthritis sufferers of all ages. CreakyJoints houses message boards, news features, advice from medical experts, and blogs, including one by Ginsberg himself. From the organization’s offices in Upper Nyack, Ginsberg runs a forum for 33,000 members — and growing.

The spark for the Web site sprang from the loneliness Ginsberg felt during his first weeks at Babson College in Boston in 1999. “It was three o’clock in the morning. I was laying on my bunk bed, awake, and I felt miserable. I was alone, so far away from my support,” Ginsberg recalls. “I got out of bed and e-mailed a guy named Lou Tharp. I had interned for Lou over the summer before college at his marketing firm in Upper Nyack. He was the only guy I could think to e-mail at the time. I said, ‘You know, there’s got to be something we could do to bring people together in a positive environment.’ Just a couple of hours later, he wrote back, ‘I’d like to be a social entrepreneur. Let’s do this together.’ ”

Other online support sites for arthritis existed at the time, but CreakyJoints soon found a niche with its serious-but-lighthearted tone. A purposeful levity fills the Web pages of the site, as demonstrated by its name and playful slogan (“Bringing arthritis to its knees”). The philosophy follows Ginsberg’s own approach to living with the condition. “We’re not a pity party,” he says. “It’s a place to come and leave feeling better than when you came. Humor has a lot to do with that.”

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