Early Saturday morning, November 7, 2015 was overcast with forecast of rain as participants, organisers and volunteer assistants gathered at 7:30am for the Alliance for Lupus Research Walk Event near the base of the Washington Monument in DC.  A team of RRT volunteers were soon put into their task positions by the Lupus event coordinators and the action began.  Shortly after the race began, the rain started to fall and continued throughout the whole time.

Walkers parading through the streets of Washington DC with the Jefferson Memorial in the background

The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) is a national organization based in New York City and founded in 1999 by Robert Wood Johnson IV, who is a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson. ALR is proactively battling lupus by committing millions of dollars and holding nationwide events each year to raise funds for lupus research. Lupus is one of many disorders of the immune system where it turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect. This can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain. There are many different symptoms such as extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fevers, skin rashes and kidney problems. At present there is no cure for lupus but it can be effectively treated with drugs so most people with the disease can lead active and healthy lives.

Volunteers preparing the food tent for the walkers

As many participants began arriving, they were ushered to registration where volunteers collected their sponsor money and handed them an event t-shirt in return. The remainder of the event coordinators and volunteers were busy with various other tasks such as serving refreshments in the food tent, welcoming participants, gathering teams together for their team photos and handing out the purple beaded Lupus necklaces.

The ten top participant teams making their speeches before the event began

Just before the walk began there was a welcome ceremony, where they introduced the top ten participating teams, of which most of them either had Lupus or were affected in their family by it.  This was very affecting as each one spoke of why they were at the event.  One of the speakers, by name of Amber, is so affected by Lupus she has lost feeling in her feet but was determined to complete this 2.5 mile walk.  Her doctor had said she wouldn’t be able for it… but read on, to find out what happened!

The ribbon cutting ceremony

The 500 participants proceeded to the ribbon cutting ceremony which began the walk at 10:00am. The group was lead by a US Park Police officer on his motorcycle as he kindly stopped the traffic at the intersections.  As the walkers continued down the path along the tidal basin their spirits stayed high, despite the chilling rain, as they remembered the good cause they were supporting.

Walkers passing by the Washington Memorial Volunteers handing out refreshments as the walkers returned

At the finish line, volunteers welcomed back the walkers with refreshments along with encouraging cheers for each supporter of Lupus Research. The best was yet to come, as the message got passed around to gather at the finished line for Amber, who would be soon approaching. Yes the woman, whose doctor said she couldn’t do the walk, crossed the finish line as everyone cheered her on and chanted her name. It was a very heartfelt moment which affected everyone present and was truly inspirational to see the shear value of support coming from the community.

A photo of Amber and her supporters nearing the finish line

After the walk was complete, the participants were able to get refreshments from the food stand before heading home. Another Lupus Walk was complete and close to another $100,000.00 was raised for Fight against Lupus. After some clean-up and huge thanks from the event coordinator, the group of RRT volunteers were back on their way around noon, but with agreement that they would come again to help support next year’s event!

A group photo of the volunteers and event coordinators in front of the Washington Memorial

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