“Team Katie” Walks to Battle Lupus

Katie Held, co-chair of the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s 2013 campaign, is raising money and awareness for this Saturday’s Walk for Lupus Now event.

The event is personal for Held, who has lupus and is well aware that there is little public knowledge about the disease. The walk is the largest fundraiser for the Lupus Foundation of America’s Mid-South chapter, and supports programs and services for those battling lupus.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. Nobody knows what the cause is, and symptoms vary widely. In many cases, there are few visible symptoms. A person may look perfectly healthy but be in great pain and fatigued. For some, it can be life-threatening, and one in five patients are permanently disabled.

Lupus mostly affects women of childbearing age, 15 to 44. The highest incidence is in African-American women, ages 15 to 40. Held was 17 when she was diagnosed. Now 28, she takes 18 pills a day to help deal with the disease.

Held notes that Lupus “is one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed diseases, there is no cause, no cure, and the first drug for lupus in over 50 years was just approved this year.”

According to her team webpage, Team Katie has raised over $6,300, well over the $4,000 goal. The walk overall raised $45,000 last year and has a $50,000 goal this year.

The walk will be tomorrow at Heardmont Park, 5452 Cahaba Valley Road, south of Birmingham. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the walk beginning at 9 a.m.

Walkers can do a 1, 2 or 3 mile loop around the park. There are water stations and a bathroom along the route. There are individual and team awards, and door prizes.

More about Team Katie: