First-ever Autoimmune Walk hopes to build on Relay for Life’s success

| Senior News Editor

The lack of information about autoimmune diseases was brought to light for junior Emily Kenney when her mother was diagnosed with lupus while Kenney was in high school. In an effort to raise awareness about such diseases and money for future research efforts, Kenney is bringing the first-ever Autoimmune Walk in the state of Missouri to the Washington University campus.

Students Educating and Walking for Autoimmune Related Diseases, a student group founded by Kenney, is hosting the walk, which will begin in Brookings Quadrangle and then circle the length of the campus.

“It took them a while to figure out my mom had lupus, and even then they had a really hard time pinning down treatments,” she said. “I realized then that not much is known about autoimmune diseases and that it’s something that’s so pervasive that it warrants more looking into and needs more research funding.”

Kenney, who was actively involved in Relay for Life in previous years, said that because the University’s Relay chapter raised more than $225,000 last year alone, there might be a chance in the future that the school would be able to bring similar benefits to the realm of autoimmune-related diseases.

Registration for the event will begin at noon, with performances by Jive and The Ghost Lights also in the Quad. The walk begins at 1 p.m. Sunday and will conclude with raffles for gift cards from various restaurants surrounding campus.

The reason the event will be a walk as opposed to a 5k is to pay tribute to the muscular issues that many people with autoimmune-related diseases have. All those who participate will hold on to a linked chain, the symbol of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, as they walk.

“When you have a walk, you have so many people together, and you realize how it affects people, and you get to interact with people who have similar stories to you and share them,” Kenney said. “It’s not only a way to raise money, but it’s also a way for people affected by autoimmune-related diseases—whether it’s themselves or someone they know—to come together and have a discussion.”

The event is open to both students of Washington University and members of the community.