Photo courtesy of the Lupus Foundation of America.
Walk to End Lupus Now
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects about 27,000 people in Alabama.
More than 1.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disease called lupus.
There is a lot of unfamiliarity related to lupus even though this disease is gaining more understanding around the nation as celebrities speak out about it.
“The reason I think it is so hard to understand is because the symptoms are so common it’s hard to tell someone and [them] not think it’s allergies or a seasonal cold,” said Katelyn Slaughter, development coordinator at Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter. “It’s actually chronic, so it’s not just something that comes through the seasons or weather change.”
As a chronic disease, its signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. Lupus can affect the skin or joints, and some people have problems with their gastrointestinal system or vision. Slaughter said many people go through “lupus flares,” or a period of time such as a day, week or year when they suffer severe fatigue, anemia and muscle and joint swelling.
The disease can affect anyone, but it is most commonly found in women of color during their reproductive years, about ages 18-54.
The Walk to End Lupus Now is the only nationally certified lupus fundraising charity walk, and there are walks all across the United States. The second-largest walk is the one held right here in Birmingham at Veterans Park. It draws between 800 and 900 people from all over the state.
“It invites an opportunity for the 27,000 people suffering with lupus to all come together on one day to celebrate life and support one another as we raise money for research and education,” Slaughter said.
This year’s walk will take place March 28, with registration starting at 8 a.m. and the 1-mile walk starting at 10 a.m. It’s a free event with no registration fee, but it is a fundraising walk with door prizes, a photo booth, games for kids, face painting, a dance competition, T-shirt contest and other prizes.
“The biggest importance is everyone coming together,” Slaughter said. “It’s kind of that new awareness. We have some people that return every year that we know their families, we know them by name and we know their story. Then we have people who come out as their first time, and they are so excited to be there to finally find a community where they can feel someone understands what they are going through.”
For more information about lupus, visit lupus.org. For more information about or to register for the Walk to End Lupus Now, visit kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1126892.
Walk to End Lupus Now
Saturday, March 28