One Link Closer: Student Educating & Walking for Autoimmune Related Diseases
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"About the photograph and the event: In the photograph, there are seven of the students (including myself) who organized the Autoimmune Forum & Autoimmune Walk on the Washington University in St. Louis campus on September 27th, 2014. We are standing under Brookings Hall at the front of the Wash U campus, and we are holding up a link chain that has the names of our loved ones that are fighting autoimmune diseases, names of autoimmune diseases that we are fighting against, and even some of our own names as we personally have students with autoimmune diseases in STEWARD. The t-shirts in the photograph are used for our student organization, STEWARD (Student Educating & Walking for Autoimmune Related Diseases), and we also gave the speakers who volunteered to speak at the event these t-shirts from CustomInk as thank you gifts, as well. My experience with CustomInk: Because the local speakers (from Wash U School of Medicine and Gateway Gastroenterology) gave shirt sizes close to the date of the event, the t-shirts were needed quickly. Everyone at CustomInk was very helpful and accommodating to make sure the shirts arrived on time! During our first print of the shirts last spring, the CustomInk team was also helpful in adjusting the design of the links on our t-shirt! We love the design, and we have loved our experience with CustomInk. I was overwhelmed with excitement when Jane Ryan from CustomInk told me that CustomInk would donate to our cause! CustomInk donated $20 to the AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association) with whom STEWARD partnered with for the Missouri Autoimmune Walk to raise money for medical research for autoimmune diseases. The Autoimmune Walk had the purpose of raising funds for medical research, raising awareness about autoimmune diseases, and supporting those facing autoimmune diseases. Why does STEWARD and the Autoimmune Walk mean so much to me? Two years ago, I sat at the Wash U Relay for Life. It was a beautiful, moving event, and it was wonderful to hear about the strides we have made in understanding cancer and cancer treatments (even though we have a long way to go). Since the beginning of college, my mom’s health had been declining due to her struggle with Lupus. I sat in the bleachers at Relay for Life thinking about how frustrating it is to not understand her illness enough to treat it. The various combinations of medicines her wonderful doctors had tried were not helping her into remission. The various treatments did not make her feel any better. Lupus was attacking her. A quote I heard recently was: “autoimmune disease: because the only thing tough enough to kick my ass is myself.” That sentence holds true for my mother and my friends with autoimmune diseases. They are tough women and men emotionally, mentally, and physically, but their bodies are attacking themselves. After sitting at Relay for Life in Spring 2013, I felt passion to aid in research efforts for autoimmune diseases, and I decided to start a walk on campus for autoimmune diseases. I found the AARDA, which had wonderful non-for-profit organization ratings for the use of their funds, and the organization also applied to the spectrum of autoimmune diseases (rather than focusing on just one). In October 2013, we held our first walk on campus. The attendance was small, but we raised over $3,000. This year, STEWARD also included a forum to provide an educational component to WU students and community members, and I am proud to see STEWARD and the Autoimmune Weekend growing. Not only can we raise money to fund research, but hopefully STEWARD can inspire students on the Wash U campus to pursue medical research on autoimmune diseases, provide a community for those struggling with autoimmune diseases, and raise awareness about the prevalence of autoimmune diseases, which range in severity, in our WU community and in the U.S.. " - https://portfolio.wustl.edu/organization/STEWARD - Emily Kenney (Oct 08, 2014)
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