Our local Akron Area (Ohio) Sjogren's Syndrome Support Group had a 'walkabout' on Sunday, June 3, 2012. One purpose of the walkabout was to raise funds for the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF), which is then used to fund awareness campaigns to educate the public and medical communities about Sjogren's Syndrome, and to fund research to find better treatments. Another purpose of the walkabout was that all of those participating talked to family and friends about Sjogren's, and that in itself increased awareness. Besides that, it is a fun event, a chance for us to get together in the fresh air and take a walk.
Sjogren's Syndrome is defined by the SSF as "a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease in which moisture-producing glands are damaged, significantly decreasing the quantity and quality of saliva and tears." It may cause dysfunction in other organs and systems, and often includes extreme fatigue and joint pain. Sjogren's is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, striking as many as 4,000,000 Americans.
Since pain and fatigue are frequent symptoms of Sjogren's, the walkabouts are short. There are options for participation for anyone, including working at the registration or snack tables, cheering others on, and doing as much of the route as they are able.
If you are a regular reader here, you know of my struggle lately with plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, and hip pain. I walked the full route, twice around a short circuit, slowly but surely. My husband and youngest son, home briefly between college and grad school, walked with me. I raised over $300 myself, and the event raised over $6ooo total. While I was collecting money for Sjogren's, a couple of friends were collecting money for cancer walks they were participating in. It seems that more and more illnesses are getting involved in the 'walkathon' business. This is a fun way to help fund research and education for whatever ails you. Check out local support groups, look online, find out if there is some kind of event for your illness, and if not, start one. You don't have to be a big, national organization. Our local newspaper frequently has little blurbs about a person or family sponsoring a spaghetti dinner, or a walk, or some other event to raise funds for something. You can even just get a bunch of friends together to raise funds to send to whatever cause you choose. Keep in mind that if you do not have a known cause behind you, people may be reluctant to donate. Be clear about where the money will be going.