Tifton hosts 11th annual Lupus Awareness Month event
TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - Four women battling Lupus are spreading awareness of how the disease affects the livelihood of millions.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes pain in joints and organs. According to the CDC, 1.5 million people in the United States have some form of the disease.
Pat McKinnon has made it one of her life’s goals to spread awareness of Lupus. During May, at least 250 Tifton businesses have a ribbon outside their doors.
“We’re painting Tifton purple for our big ‘Put On Purple Event,’” McKinnon said.
May is Lupus Awareness Month and Wednesday is World Lupus Day. McKinnon plans for a month filled with Lupus awareness events. On May 26, Tifton residents will wear purple. Then, on May 31, McKinnon is encouraging everyone in South Georgia to wear purple.
This issue is personal to her because she’s battling the disease.
“There is a lot of fatigue every now and then, but we have to push. You look at me and say “You have Lupus?” Yes, when you get my lab work that’s why you can tell,” McKinnon said.
Through the United Way, they are able to put this event on every year. This is their 11th annual. Simple things like being out in the sun, or eating salt and red meat can aggravate symptoms. McKinnon said she’s learning about her condition every day.
According to the CDC, Lupus is more common among women, and everyone who gets it can have different symptoms.
Christie Leger has grandchildren. She said there are better days than others, but living with Lupus is always a challenge.
“When I get home I have no energy. I want to play and do the things we like to do. My hips are messed up, my knees, my back,” Leger said.
Tiffany Cushion has Lupus too. Her symptoms are different.
“It affects my joints and my skin. And also I lock up my elbows and my knee locks up as well. I just don’t give up. Keep fighting,” Cushion said.
Lupus doesn’t have a cure. All are forced to live and manage their daily symptoms. In her two decade battle, Leger said medicine has gotten better, but barely.
“I hope they do more research because I feel like the more people that do research and more people in there and more. And maybe they will start coming to the congressmen and saying ‘these people are really sick, let’s see what we can do,’” Leger said.
Tifton is the Friendly City, so Melody Cowart,the president of Tift County Chamber of Commerce, isn’t surprised about the amount of support.
“Everyone in our town is always willing to support great causes,” Cowart said.
Kathy Allen owns a business downtown. Her daughter has Lupus too. She is one business owner all in this month. Business owners in the area agree that even more needs to be done to get the awareness out.
“There should be a collection jar that would be located near the desk to help support lupus foundation,” Allen said.
Allen is encouraging businesses to go beyond the ribbons by setting up donation jars as she has at her shop.
Meanwhile, McKinnon said she’s organizing Lupus workshops this month and is giving away t-shirts.
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