I am one of the 1.5 million Americans living with lupus. I was diagnosed when I was 30 years old, coincidently at the same time as one of my childhood friends. Together, she (Yolanda Hall) and I formed the organization Hand in Hand for Lupus, making it our mission to educate those living in Galveston County about this devastating disease. Lupus is a lifelong acute and chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is overactive, causing it to attack healthy organs and tissue in the body. It is referred to as a cruel mystery because they do not know what causes it and little research has been done to find a cure, and this is why we need more people to help support our mission and that of the Lupus Foundation of America, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter.

The 2018 Walk to END Lupus NOW-Galveston County 5K walk-a-thon event, sponsored by the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, will be held in League City, in partnership with Hand in Hand for Lupus. We will be raising money and awareness to help promote early diagnosis and to help find a cure for this disease. Last year, we raised over $23,000, which supported the chapter’s free education programs, awareness campaign, direct patient services and much needed research.

This year will mark the seventh anniversary of our annual walk. There will be an array of activities before and after the walk, as well as an introduction of the newest addition to the team, Ember the wolf dog. Lupus takes its name from the Latin word “lupus,” meaning wolf. The name was associated with the disease due to one of the telltale signs of lupus, a rash across the face mimicking the markings of a wolf’s face. Our goal this year is to keep standing, keep hoping and believing that this year we will not only double the amount raised in 2017, but make our mark in Galveston County and our voices heard.

The seventh annual Walk to END Lupus NOW is scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. May 12 at Walter Hall Park at 807 state Highway 3 N., in League City. Registration will begin at 7 a.m.

Proceeds will benefit the chapter’s programs and services. In addition to the walk, we have planned a variety of Galveston County area events leading up to the walk, including a kickoff weekend at NOLA Poboys on March 9 and March 10. For more information about upcoming lupus events or to register to walk with us, visit www.lupustexas.org.

Janell Long is co-founder of Hand in Hand for Lupus.

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