Lions do their part for GNAC lupus fundraiser

by Beacon Staff • February 4, 2009

Emerson's Facility Coordinator and Equpiment Manager Shannon Roberts encountered lupus personally when she was a coach at a field hockey camp. One of the young campers she coached had been living with lupus for a few years.

"She had many ups and downs during her high school years . she was determined to figure out how to live with the disease while maintaining a normal lifestyle," Roberts said.

That was Roberts' connection with the disease. That was part of the reason an event called "Passionate Purple Week" came to the Emerson campus recently.

Purple-representing the labors behind the cure for the disease lupus-was adorned on players and fans at recent basketball games in all parts of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, "lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including the skin, joints, blood, blood vessels, and organs inside the body, especially the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain." Ninety percent of those affected are women, and it is most common in African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.

At Emerson, the Athletics Department and the Student Athletics Advisory Committee promoted the awareness campaign. T-shirts were sold for seven dollars apiece at the men's and women's basketball games on Jan. 24. All proceeds were donated to the LFA. The shirts not only displayed the Emerson Athletics insignia on the front and back, but they also garnered an emblematic purple ribbon, with the words "Cure Lupus" horizontally magnified. The intent was to promote understanding and earns funds for the LFA. The event raised $300, said Jessica Adams, Assistant Athletic Director at Emerson College.

"Creating a T-shirt displaying both Emerson Athletics and the ribbon was a natural decision," Roberts said. "They are always a great way to bring awareness and display pride. There are many community members walking around campus wearing the T-shirts on a daily basis."

Competitors and students created fervor for an effort to fight a condition that affects 1.5-2 million people in the United States.

Kathy Andrade, the vice president of SAAC and an athlete on the women's basketball team said she thought the event went well.

"The event was successful; we had a good turn out for both games and I believe we sold a good number of the shirts."

The idea of a week devoted to lupus was developed by Simmons women's basketball coach, Tony Price. Having two close friends affected by the disease, Price knew he had to become involved in some way.

The GNAC sponsored a total of 13 events at various college basketball games-all during the week of Jan. 17 through the 24. In total, $1,600 was collected and donated to the LFA.

"I think this event was very important because women are diagnosed with lupus," Andrade, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, said. "I think it brought awareness to many and hopefully GNAC raised a lot of money to continue with the research for a cure."

The next charitable athletic event, a breast cancer fundraiser, will occur later this month.

"Our next initiative in conjunction with the GNAC and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is Pink Zone, to create awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research," Roberts said.

The event will be held on Feb. 14.