Amidst purple and white balloons being set off the 2016 Walk to End Lupus began at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Merrillville High School cheerleaders clapped and cheered for the participants as they walked thru the arch of balloons. You had a choice of walking the one-mile route or the three-mile route. The cooler temps and windy weather did not blow out the three hundred plus participant’s enthusiasm for the event. Men, women and children of all ages joined in the walk for Lupus. Today’s walk was for the Indiana chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.
Karen Guidarelli, Chairman of the Lupus Walk, helped oversee the setting up of the walk and made sure all those involved were thanked for helping support a great cause. Karen, who has a family member with Lupus, started out as a walker, which eventually evolved into being Chairman of the walk this year.
“I was looking forward to seeing everyone coming out, having a good time. They have already done the work of collecting the money. Now it was time to celebrate!” Guidarelli shared.
Some facts about Lupus according to the Lupus Foundation of America that you might not know: Lupus strikes mostly women of child bearing age: women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop Lupus, people of all races and ethnic groups can develop it, it is believed that over 1.5 million people in the Us have Lupus, it is not contagious. Lupus is a very complex autoimmune disease.
Morgan McGill, Chief Executive Officer for the Lupus Foundation of the Indiana Chapter, was there volunteering at the walk. Morgan stated, “$19,000 was raised, all the money raised goes towards the chapter activities. We educate and support our Lupus patients in Indiana.” This is done through six seminars put on throughout the state. There are also 12 support groups throughout the state for those with Lupus and their family members.
You could see the family and friend support as you walked through the crowds of walkers today. Team shirts were everywhere you turned. The crowd was a sea of purple and white shirts, some hidden under warm jackets or blankets.
Odette Johnson, a first time participant inn the Lupus walk, has a friend whose daughter has Lupus and says “I’m walking for her, her name is Elena.” Odette came over from Gary to participate on Team Buck.
The participants in the walk were not only from Indiana. A group 20 strong came from three different states to participate in the Lupus walk in Crown Point. The group of twenty called “Team Bugsy” came from Illinois, Indiana and Michigan all to support one of their own -- Katie McKerr.
Katie, who is from Michigan, was diagnosed with Lupus at age 17; she has been dealing with Lupus for 5 years now. Katie, the only girl in a family of six kids, is 22 and a college student. Coming into the event Katie had no idea what to expect, she hadn’t really done anything with the Lupus community since she was diagnosed but her dad Dan McKerr made all the plans to participate ion this event.
“Ever since we got here we have been having lots of fun. It’s an awesome event!” smiled Katie.
A big shout out goes to Team Kwolek- Spinks who was the top team raising $2,695 and to the Sherry’s Superheroes who raised $1,820 for the event. A big thank you to all the other teams who raised money and participated in the Lupus walk and joined the fight to end Lupus.