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Camille Kostek is diving into a cause that hits close to home.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl is teaming up with her boyfriend, three-time football champion Rob Gronkowski, “American Ninja Warrior” host Matt Iseman, and several other celebrities with CBDMedic to host a live, online fundraising event benefiting the Arthritis Foundation. It will support the elderly and immunocompromised who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, the stars will be participating in “Survive & Thrive: COV-19 Celebrity Challenge,” which will be livestreamed on the Facebook channel of the Arthritis Foundation. They will face off on various physical challenges aiming to give audiences a sneak peek into their lives while practicing social distancing.
“I think the greatest thing about partnering with the Arthritis Foundation is the fact that we’re raising awareness,” the model told Fox News. “I actually called my mom and said, ‘I’ve heard the word ‘arthritis’ every once in a while come out of your mouth. Do you have arthritis?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I have knee pain, joint pain and in my hands… I have arthritis.’”
“You don’t necessarily have to be elderly,” the 28-year-old continued. “… I’m learning so much just from being involved. And the elderly are a big part of those at-risk patients when it comes to coronavirus. So we especially want to give back to those elderly patients who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
According to the foundation, while doctors are still trying to learn more about the novel virus, in general, people with autoimmune or inflammatory arthritis who have a high disease activity “seem to have an increased risk of infections due to greater immune dysregulation.”
In a statement sent to Fox News, the foundation said it’s serving the high-risk COVID-19 population by “providing support, community outreach and knowledge directly to their patient community." All the funds raised during the lifestream will go directly towards several initiatives to support patients, including a 24-hour helpline staffed by licensed social workers, a program to help increase physical activity at home, as well as research leading to better treatments for arthritis, among others.
This isn’t the first time Kostek has been keeping busy giving back. Recently, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center received a donation of 10,000 masks from Kostek and Gronkowski, 30.
"We love you and all healthcare professionals on the frontline doing all they can to save lives, Thank YOU,” she wrote on Instagram April 3. “My faith in humanity has constantly been restored as I connect with people from all over the world morning to night who want to get involved and do anything to help.”
Kostek said giving back and raising awareness to fans on social media has helped her maintain a positive outlook during tough times.
“Sometimes I have followers reach out to me and say, ‘Why are you so happy during this time?’” she explained. “‘There’s so much to be sad about. There’s so much to be anxious about.’ But it’s OK to be happy. It’s OK to feel good about yourself because it’s not doing any good for anybody else to be fearful or spread anxiety. I’m all about being open with how you feel. But I don’t believe in feeding into fear. I think that’s what keeps me going and feeling hopeful.”
“If someone looks up to you, it doesn’t good any good to feed into that fear and anxiety,” she continued. “So I’m trying to stay positive and hope it will inspire others to do the same during these tough times. And I’m lucky to have my health, which is why I want to give back and get involved with things that can help someone else who needs it the most.”
Kostek said she hopes viewers tuning in will get a much-needed distraction from the ongoing news and even possibly learn some new skills while isolating.
And when it comes to those faced with growing anxiety, she had some key pieces of advice.
“Just take three deep breaths, write down your fears, write down your thoughts, write down all those feelings you’re experiencing,” she said. “It’s a lot easier said than done, but once you start practicing more, you’ll soon realize that you have a lot more control over your thoughts. And we’ll get through this.”
“Survive & Thrive: COVID-19 Celebrity Challenge” will be live-streamed on the Facebook channel of the Arthritis Foundation on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET.