Newswise — ATLANTA – The American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Simple Tasks campaign has been named a finalist by the PR News Nonprofit PR Awards program for Best Public Service Announcement. The PSA, titled Don’t Ignore the Signs, featured actress Jennie Garth and was aired nationwide during September’s Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month. Garth, who became a disease advocate after her five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Still’s disease, partnered with the Simple Tasks campaign to raise awareness about rheumatic diseases and to encourage individuals to seek care from a trained rheumatologist if they are experiencing signs of rheumatic disease.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for our work to raise national awareness about rheumatic diseases,” said Joan Roth, Senior Director of Marketing, Communication and Technology for the ACR. “Although one in five Americans live with rheumatic diseases like arthritis, lupus, and gout, many people are unaware of the symptoms, treatment options, and important role of rheumatologists in diagnosing and treating these diseases. As a result, patients may experience chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms for years before seeking treatment or receiving a proper diagnosis. Our hope is that the PSA helps more Americans receive timely and effective intervention and treatment from a trained rheumatologist so they can manage pain, avoid long-term disability, and enjoy healthy, full lives.”

Launched for the first time in September 2016, Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM) is sponsored by the ACR and its public awareness campaign, Simple Tasks. RDAM promotes awareness and understanding of rheumatic diseases and calls greater attention to this growing healthcare crisis.

Rheumatic diseases – which include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, Sjögren’s, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and hundreds of lesser-known conditions – are painful diseases that affect the body’s joints and muscles. More than 52 million Americans – young and old – live with rheumatic diseases, making them the nation’s leading cause of disability. These chronic, progressive and often debilitating illnesses are frequently underdiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, due to unusual symptoms and a national shortage of trained rheumatologists.

The PR News Nonprofit PR Awards program honors top communications initiatives in 17 different categories. The winners will be announced at PR News’ Spring Awards Luncheon on March 12, 2017 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The American College of Rheumatology’s award submission is shared by Schmidt Public Affairs, its agency of record.

See the complete list of this year’s PR Nonprofit Award finalists.