Thousands of Long Islanders line up to walk for Lupus
Not even a chilly morning breeze could prevent some 2,000 Long Islanders from supporting friends and family members afflicted with “America’s least known major disease” at the 18th Walk-Along for Lupus at Eisenhower Park on Sunday, Oct. 16.
“We were thrilled with the turnout,” said J.C. VanderPutten, director of programs and media for the Lupus Alliance of Long Island/Queens.
The local chapter of the Lupus Alliance of America, a national non-profit organization, hosted the event. The walk generated proceeds that surpassed $200,000.
“It was extremely successful, and we’re still counting [donations],” VanderPutten said.
Lupus affects more than 1.5 million people in America. More than 90 percent of those afflicted with the disease are women, according to the Lupus Research Institute. The walk was intended to not only raise funds for research but also to raise awareness.
“Lupus [effects] one in a hundred women,” said JoAnn Quinn, executive director of the Lupus Alliance. “It’s the most prevalent unknown disease.”
The Lupus Alliance describes the disease as a chronic disorder of the immune system. Instead of attacking harmful foreign antigens, the body creates antibodies that attack its own tissue and organs including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin and joints. The most common symptoms are fatigue and joint pain.
There is currently no cure for lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, “it is believed that between 10-15 percent of people with lupus will die prematurely due to complications of lupus.”
Radio personality Greg T. of z100 made an appearance at the event. Richard Nussbaum, vice president of the Lupus Alliance of Long Island/Queens, explained that the organization forged a relationship with the popular radio station when a past disc jockey was diagnosed with the disease.
Donated funds will support free monthly educational workshops at local libraries and also provide sufferers with telephone counseling services and help fund educational programs.
Besides the walk, the local Lupus Alliance hosts additional fundraisers throughout the year including a motorcycle run, a “Laugh for Lupus” comedy club raffle and a “Blues on the Bay” jazz festival in Suffolk County.