UP photo by Aspen Winn

UP photo by Aspen Winn

A Walk to End Lupus walkathon was held at Lamar University, April 22. The walkathon, hosted by the Lupus Foundation of America, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, is an annual fundraiser. The proceeds from the walkathon go towards research, education, outreach and direct services regarding Lupus, an incurable, inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues.

The participants in the walkathon formed teams or sponsored walkers to reach a fundraising goal. At the end of the walk, the top-10 fundraisers and the top-10 teams were honored for raising the most money.

“I hardly see events that support the research and education of Lupus, so I’m glad that they had such a big turn out today,” participant Courtney Hornsby said.

Hornsby, 23, was diagnosed with Lupus in 2011. Her kidneys only have an eight-percent functioning rate, and earlier this year her B- cells were not detectable making her ineligible to receive a new kidney.

“It’s been hard,” she said. “It’s been more than hard actually. Some days are better than others. You just never know what news you are going to hear from the doctors, but the most important thing is to remain positive. Your outlook on life is what is going to get you through this thing.”

Most of her team, of more than 20, wore black shirts with purple and white writing that read, “Lupus messed with the wrong chick,” which were specially made for the event.

“I won’t let this beat me,” Hornsby said. “I’ve come too far and have dealt with this way too long to give up now. I will keep on walking regardless of what happens.”

Hornsby’s team is made up of her family, friends, coworkers and church members. They walked the 5k, encouraging Hornsby along the way.

“They keep me going, literally,” she said. “I have no idea where I would be without them. I love them to pieces. They’re the reason that I won’t give up — or can’t give up for that matter.”

Currently, more than $7,000 has been raised and the Lupus Foundation is accepting donations through July 31.

Jessica Fobbs, who also has Lupus, didn’t participate in the walk but was the No. 1 fundraiser, totaling $822, exceeding her goal of $750.

“This is so close to my heart because it affects me daily,” she said. “I hate what it does to your body and spirit. Some days I can’t even get out of bed from my body hurting so bad. It breaks you down mentally, because you don’t even know the cause of Lupus, so every day you think about what you could’ve and probably should’ve done differently — but you’ll truly never know what caused it.”

Fobb said she is excited to raise awareness of Lupus and believes that these 5k runs are a great way to get people involved.

“Support is one of the most important things in fighting Lupus,” she said. “You need the love and helping hand. That’s why I like the idea of having teams, because it’s so much easier when you have that extra hand. I wouldn’t have been able to raise that money and keep raising without the help of my loved ones. That support means something.”

Things are looking up for Hornsby, she said. She recently found out that B-Cells have been detected and doctors have found her perfect match — “Boom,” her boyfriend of eight years.

“When they told us, I immediately got chills,” she said. “A lot has gone on that people can’t imagine. He has given me the strength since I was diagnosed at 15 to keep the faith, to keep going, and the reminder that one day it’ll all be over. I guess eight-years ago, God knew I was going to need a miracle so he sent Boom.”

More than 1.5 million Americans have lupus. In the Houston/Galveston area, more than 30,000 people are living with lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation website. It is one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed diseases in the world.

According to to the Texas Gulf Chapetr of the foundation, they expect to see more than $10,000 raised by the end of July.

For more information, visit lupus.org.

Aspen Winn

UP contributor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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