5th Annual DC Lupus Walk - The Rain Couldn't Stop Us

WI Staff | 4/21/2011, 11:08 a.m.
When the rain started falling Saturday morning, no one was sure what would happen to...
Team L.M.L.O (Laughing My Lupus Off) was just one of many teams to walk - Courtesy Photo  

When the rain started falling Saturday morning, no one was sure what would happen to the long-planned 5th Anniversary DC Walk for Lupus Now! But the 5th Annual DC Lupus Walk went forward on the morning of Saturday, April 16th despite the treacherous rain, cold and wind that tried to claim the day of lupus awareness in the District. Over 2000 walkers walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, the biggest crowd yet for this Walk. The poor weather had the potential to put a damper on the event, but the spirits of lupus supporters were vibrant and strong, and they refused to allow anything to get in the way of giving this chronic disease the awareness it deserves.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any and every organ system simultaneously, and an estimated 80,000 people have lupus in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The Lupus Foundation of America, DC/MD/VA Chapter (LFA-DC/MD/VA) is dedicated to providing free support and lupus educational services to these people affected by lupus, and the DC Walk funds these services.

Walkers warmed up by dancing in the rain. - Courtesy Photo
As Walkers arrived at the starting point of the walk, they were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers and LFA-DC/MD/VA staff. Upon arrival, walkers also received knapsacks that were provided by the leading sponsor of the walk, Human Genome Sciences (HGS). HGS is the pharmaceutical company that developed the first drug approved specifically for the treatment of lupus in the past 52 years, Benlysta - approved in March 2011. They have also been a huge supporter of LFA-DC/MD/VA and had the largest team of walkers at the DC Walk for Lupus Now!

"There was a notable effort made by all walkers, with teams large and small, at the grass roots level, and it was all part of raising lupus awareness and funding to support those affected by lupus" stated Penny Fletcher, President and CEO of LFA-DC/MD/VA . An upcoming event that will be directly supported by the DC Lupus Walk is the 16th Annual DC Symposium on Saturday, May 7, 2011. This is the largest lupus education event in the Mid-Atlantic, and will cover a variety of topics focused on taking charge and living well with lupus.

Walkers had the opportunity to enjoy a face painter, who painted beautiful colorful butterflies on the faces of many. There was also a very supportive clown who kept smiles on the faces of many walkers. Both entertainers heightened the positive sprits of those anxiously waiting to walk for lupus in the rain. Before the walk began, the crowd was lead in a warm up by an enthusiastic woman named Kukuwa, who practices and teaches West African Dance and has incorporated the cultural movements into a workout. The sight of 2,000 people dancing in the rain showed that spirits were not going to be dampened by the weather!

2000 walkers walked in the rain down Pennsylvania Ave. - Courtesy Photo
The Washington Informer was then honored for being a generous supporter of the DC Walk for Lupus Now! They have been a sponsor of the Walk for five consecutive years and Ron Burke, Director of Advertising and Marketing at the Washington Informer was recognized before the walk began for WI's continued support of lupus and the efforts made by LFA/MD/VA. Lupus is most prevalent among minorities, so the Washington Informer aims to keep people of color informed about lupus and continue to raise lupus awareness. Burke and other 5 year walkers were then invited up to the start line to cut the ribbon to signifying the beginning of the 5th Anniversary DC Lupus Walk. Following this glorious moment, walkers marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to 3rd Street and back with butterflies and umbrellas waiving in the rain. As walkers returned, they were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers and LFA-DC/MD/VA staff waiving purple pom-poms and dancing in the rain.

LFA - DMV says that the DC Walk for Lupus Now! was a success, and they were able to surpass their fundraising goal. They are now aiming to reach $300,000 by the end of the fundraising period, which is Wednesday, June 1, 2011. To make donations, visit www.dclupuswalk.org and check out photos from this incredible day. With the inspiring success of this year, they are determined to do even better at the 2012 DC Walk for Lupus Now! Their goal for 2012 is to become the largest lupus walk in the nation by having over 3000 walkers, and raising over $400,000 dollars. All money raised will continue to provide free education workshops and support services to those affected by lupus in the District of Colombia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Everyone on staff at LFA - DC/MD/VA says. "Thank you for the support to all walkers and the Washington Informer. We are already looking forward to next year and making big plans - watch for announcements on our website - www.lupusdmv.org!