LINCOLN COUNTY, Ga. (WFXG) - A local teen, who is battling a connective tissue disease, finds strength at a special camp organized by the Children's Hospital of Georgia.

Cosette Alston, age 18, battles a rare illness.

"At the age of eight I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called scleroderma," she said, "which means hard skin, and it goes up my arm and up my hand."

She’s thriving in remission now, but to battle her it she had to get radiation chemotherapy, steroids and injectable chemo. She said the treatments left her in pain, unable to go out with friends, but she said she found her sanctuary at Camp Joint Venture.

It's her 8th year at the camp, and it's a program for kids with conditions like Cosette's.

"All the friends that I’ve made here has help me realize that it’s not just me, and that’s honestly helped me get through all of it," Alston said.

"They encourage each other," Augusta University Health nurse and Camp Joint Venture counselor, Deedee WIlliams said. "That’s what I love is that they’ll be like 'Come on you can do it,' and they'll be right next to each other, I think, because they understand what each other is going through."

Williams said that while all the campers at Joint Venture have rheumatic diseases - which can make it hard to move - they make it through all kinds of obstacle together. "I mean if you really want to see a party come on the dance," Williams said. "These kids can break it down, and I’m thinking ‘You’ve got arthritis? I can’t even do that and I don’t have arthritis,’ but they just work through it. They’re just wonderful."

“From the bottom of my heart just thank you, for everything that you’ve done to contribute to making camp such a success every year,” Alston said of camp organizers," because it definitely changed my life. and it definitely changes other kids’ lives.”

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