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Event puts lupus in the forefront

The Lupus Alliance of America Upstate New York chapter will sponsor a walk Sunday, March 29, at Crossgates Mall to help raise money for lupus patients and their families and raise awareness about the disease.

The Lupus Alliance, which sponsors quarterly meetings for patients and their families, is asking for a minimum donation of $20 for adults and $5 for children 5 to 12.

The mall has been very generous and helpful to us, said Honi Kurzeja, executive director of the local chapter and a lupus patient.

She said the Lupus Alliance has been doing similar walks for 13 years in Buffalo. The walk will include three trips around the inside of the mall, and refreshments will be served.

Kurzeja has had lupus for 35 years, and has faced a number of life- threatening situations, but she said she has been lucky enough to pull out of them.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain.

"The body builds up antibodies against itself," Kurzeja explained.

For some, lupus symptoms are mild, for others, the symptoms can be life-threatening.

"Although epidemiological data on lupus is limited, studies suggest that more than 16,000 Americans develop lupus each year," according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The foundation states that between 1.5 million and 2 million people have a form of lupus, and 90 percent are women.

"Symptoms and diagnosis occur most often when women are in their child-bearing years, between the ages of 15 and 45," according to the Lupus Foundation.

It also states that African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and

Native Americans are the most likely to be affected.

Registration for the walk begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 9:30 a.m. Walkers are asked to use the entrance closest to Best Buy to register.

Sara Boniface said the mall is proud to sponsor this event, as well as the close to 600 other non-profit events it sponsors each year.

"We know that it works. It gets greater and greater," Boniface said.

For information call the Lupus Alliance of Upstate New York at 800- 300-4198 or visit its Web site at www.lupuswalk.org, where you can register as well.

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