Several hundred runners, walkers, and bicyclists participated in a two-day awareness fundraiser this past weekend for lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease.
The first-time fundraiser, called Butterflies for Hope, included a 5K run and walk Friday evening, and a 25-mile to 62-mile bicycle ride on Saturday afternoon. Organizer Donna Sullivan, co-owner of Hot Bagel Co., estimated that more than $7,000 was raised for the Lupus Foundation of America’s Mid-South Chapter.
The chapter covers Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, where about 90,000 residents have lupus, said Sherry Hammond, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-South Chapter. She and Shannon Wagner, the chapter’s development manager, were in town for the fundraiser.
Lupus is an incurable autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. Hammond said the effects can range from mild to life-threatening.
Sullivan, whose 23-year-old daughter Katie has lupus, said the disease can be very expensive to treat. One of her daughter’s medicines, for example, costs $323 for a six-week supply.
Organizers of the weekend fundraiser said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug for lupus in March 2011. Called Benlysta, it’s the first new lupus treatment in 50 years, according to WebMD.
Sullivan said there were 182 runners in Friday’s 5K run and walk, and about 140 bicyclists in Saturday’s ride.
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