Thousands Gather for “Walk to End Lupus Now” in Lower Manhattan

On Saturday, May 6th, more than 5,500 people came together in the Seaport District of Manhattan to participate in the Lupus Foundation of America’s 10th annual New York City “Walk to End Lupus Now.”

476 teams came dressed in purple to raise awareness and funds for the disease. Some walkers traveled from as far as Europe to show their support. The walk started at 19 Fulton Street and wrapped around the bottom of Manhattan along the East River for 3.1 miles.

Lupus, which can also be referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus or “SLE,” is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans and 5 million people worldwide. It is a non-contagious disease that can cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Currently, there is no cure.

While they were assembling around the starting line, teams and walkers were able to enjoy refreshments, listen to music from DJ Justin Mantel, and hear from State Senator Kevin Parker and Dr. Amit Saxena, a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Paula Borowski, a Connecticut resident, came to the event with her family to support her best friend Janice who has had Lupus for over 25 years.

“We’re here walking to support her. Hopefully there will be a cure soon so people don’t have to suffer anymore,” she said.

Another participant, Sapphire Waters who was diagnosed with Lupus in 2011, also came to the event in search for positivity and hope.

“Basically, I feel like if you eliminate the stress from your life you can live with Lupus in the most healthiest way possible,” she said.

Senator Parker, who represents the 21st District of Brooklyn, has been an advocate for Lupus awareness for over five years. At the state level, he has been pushing for policies that educate citizens about the disease in order to help find a cure.

“Everybody knows here all the struggles,” said Parker. “We on the state level are not nearly doing enough…This is a disease that people are not really familiar with. The doctors are not even as familiar with it as we need to have them.”

After issuing the Lupus Foundation of America a proclamation he said, “Awareness is the key. We are gonna start that with this walk today.”

NY State Senator Kevin Parker issues a proclamation.

He also told the crowd that the New York State Senate has acknowledged May 10th as World Lupus Day.

Besides receiving support at the state level, the foundation also received support at the local level. Mayor Bill de Blasio also issued a proclamation in order to recognize all of the time and hard work put in by Lupus fundraisers, patients, and researchers at the event and beyond.

Volunteers started setting up the event at 5:30am to get ready for registration at 8:30am. The walk itself began at 10am and lasted until 12pm.

The top three fundraising teams included Team Alex, who raised $25,268, Erica’s Purple Diamonds who raised $16,447, and The Cure who raised $11,645. The top three individual donors included Fran Tsimoyianis who raised $19,380, Lynn Evans who raised $10,445, and Colleen Hann who raised $9,415.

Team KJM poses for a photo.

Participants raised over $511,850 in total for Lupus research, awareness, and public support. Although they did not meet their overall goal, the foundation is still accepting donations until June 18.

The Lupus Foundation of America hosts the “Walk to End Lupus Now” in more than 50 cities in the United States every year. Future walks in the Greater New York City Area include one in Ocean City, NJ on May 21st and another in Newburgh, NY on October 7th.

The foundation is also hosting the National Policy Summit: Advocacy in Action event in Washington D.C. on June 26th and 27th. Researchers, patients, and activists will come together to put a voice to the research and awareness that has been accomplished so far.