Jackson’s first walk to raise awareness about lupus is April 19.
"Having hope is good. Having someone wish you well is better. Having someone stand there with you through the fight, the best." These are the first words you read when visiting the Fight 4 Lupus website, a nonprofit organization based in Jackson. Its founder, Krystal Knight, is a 2005 Terry High School graduate who was diagnosed with lupus in 2006.
Knight describes her experience with the disease as, "constant pain, doctor visits, hospital visits, suffering from severe anemia, blood platelets dropping, headaches all the time ... and it affects me emotionally living with something without a cure."
The Lupus Foundation of America describes lupus as a "chronic, non-contagious autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints and organs." Because it is a chronic disease, the signs and symptoms may last longer than a few weeks, often persisting for many years. The foundation estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. A womenshealth.gov factsheet says that more than 90 percent of those afflicted are women mostly between the ages of 15 and 45. African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
After awareness walks and runs for many illnesses, but none in Mississippi for lupus, Knight began to organize the first annual Fight 4 Lupus Walk. The event is Saturday, April 19, at 9 a.m. at Winners Circle Park in Flowood. The cost of the walk is $20, with all proceeds going to the national Lupus Foundation of America, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The day will begin with registration and a group dance. The walk kicks off at 10 a.m., and participants will have time and before and after the walk to visit vendor booths, including Perfect Image Boutique, Mikrama, Sweetsational Sweets, Nuttin Butt Smoke Catering, Phenomenal Gifts, Hamilton Davis Home Care Agency and Creative Bites MS by Candace.
Knight hopes that this event will bring those affected by lupus together so that no one has to walk the journey alone. "It's not just me suffering," she says.
With the closest chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America meeting in Memphis, Fight 4 Lupus has plans to host additional events throughout the year and support group meetings on the third Sunday of every month starting in May. Organizers are currently looking for a location to hold the monthly support group.
People who want to participate can sign up to walk, participate as a vendor or become a sponsor. Sponsorships start at $50. For more information, call Krystal Knight at 601-540-5239, email [email protected] or visit fight4lupus.com.