Over 100 people stepped out for Scleroderma Sunday. The 9th annual walk, hosted by the Scleroderma Foundation, brought participants to Westhill High School in support of cure.
“Our organization has a three-fold mission,” says Jay Peak, Executive Director of the Tri-State Chapter. “Which is to educate and support our patients, to raise awareness, and to help make some research happen that’s going to help find a cure for this disease.”
Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own body. This causes hardening of the skin and in some cases, serious damage to internal organs. Latisha Gardner has been struggling with the disease for 4 years now.
“I struggle with getting out of the bed, dressing myself, everyday things,” she says.
Although she had the symptoms of the disease since 2007, Gardner says she wasn’t diagnosed until 2010.
“They couldn’t figure out what it was and so it took me to go to a specialist and he automatically looked at me and said, ‘do you know what scleroderma is’ and I said no and he said ‘I believe that’s what you have’”
That’s why Gardner says it’s important to have events like Sunday’s walk to raise awareness.
“It’s so unknown,” says Gardner. “Even when you go to doctor’s appointments, some of the nurses will say, ‘scleroderma, oh well what is that.”
“The big thing about this walk is it brings people together…to realize that they’re not alone,” says Peak.
“For me, it’s a good thing,” says Gardner. “I was excited about this day, I just think knowing that there’s other people going through the same thing that you’re going through and everyone getting together just to support the cause.”
Organizers say they hope to raise $25,000 from the walk. To find out more about the disease and the scleroderma foundation, visit scleroderma.org