FAIRBORN — Scleroderma ails approximately 15,000 Ohio citizens and 300,000 invidiuals across the United States.
In the Greek language, Scleroderma literally translates to “hard skin.” It is a chronic connective tissue disease, which over-activates the immune system, causing it to attack the body’s own tissues and create an overproduction of collagen. Patients living with Scleroderma can experience the skin becoming thick, hard and tight and, in some cases, damages to the inner organs such as the heart, kidneys, esophagus, gastrointestinal tract and lungs. It can impact individuals of all ages — from infants to elderly folks — but most commonly develops between 25-55 years old.
“Scleroderma is a very individualized disease and the symptoms range from very mild to life-threatening,” Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said as he proclaimed June as Scleroderma Awareness Month in the city. ” … Prompt diagnosis and treatment by qualified physicians can minimize the symptoms of Scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage — but there is not yet a cure for the disease.”
However, there is hope.
Eight Scleroderma awareness support groups exist in Ohio and the Dayton-area chapter, led by Davis, is planning an event that will highlight raising awareness and funds to find a cure.
The Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma Family Fun Run/Walk is slated for Saturday, Aug. 5 with registration beginning at 9 a.m., the opening ceremony slated for 10:30 and the run/walk kicking off immediately following the ceremony. The event will also offer a prize and 50/50 raffle, which is slated to take place at 12:30 p.m. The run/walk offers 3/4 mile, 1.5 mile or 5k routes with pets welcome on leashes. All events are taking place at Community Park, 691 E. Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.
“We’d love for many to come out and enjoy the fun and help support our worthy cause,” Davis said. “Through events and fundraisers like this, we can spread more awareness of Scleroderma and funds to hopefully someday find a cure for the disease.”
Registration costs $20 and those who do so by Friday, July 28 are guaranteed a T-shirt highlighting the event. The event is considered family-friendly with activities such as face painting, balloon animals, a DJ, games and food vendors that are planned. Register for the event by visiting http://bit.ly/2rxMc4H. Davis added that generous prizes have already been donated.
“I want to personally challenge the citizens of Fairborn to put together some teams and come out to the Scleroderma activity,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a great chance to meet your neighbors and support a very important cause.”
Davis and her chapter have previously worked to establish a statewide Scleroderma Awareness Month bill, which passed unanimously in the Ohio House of Representatives and was signed by Governor John Kasich. The group is now working toward establishing a congressional sponsor for the same goal, except across the federal level.