December 31, 2008

Two Teens with Lupus Win Spots in the Rose Parade with Kaiser Permanente

The Lupus Foundation of America applauds their efforts to raise awareness of lupus in children.

Two southern California teens living with lupus will be among the riders aboard the Kaiser Permanente float in the 120th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2009. Nathalie Gonzales and Jessica Southern will appear on the float with 12 other riders, ages 12 through 18, who are battling life-threatening diseases, including lupus, cancer, and sickle-cell anemia. Kaiser Permanente Health Plan physicians nominated the teens based on their positive attitudes and persevering spirits.

With the theme, "Propel Your Dreams," the float design centers on Kaiser's ongoing health message, "Thrive." The float is a colorful and imaginative flying vehicle powered by inspiring children who cycle, row, and jog above floral clouds of solid roses.

"We are excited that these girls have been chosen to have this once in a lifetime experience," said Sandra C. Raymond, LFA President and CEO. "We appreciate the efforts of Kaiser Permanente, Nathalie, Jessica, and their parents to raise awareness of lupus in children."

Although not as common in children as it is in adults, lupus in children may develop early and tends to be more severe with multi-organ system involvement. While there have been no drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for lupus in 50 years, research and advances in the science of lupus has improved the future for children and teens affected by lupus. There is hope on the horizon that young teens, like Nathalie and Jessica, won't have to suffer and wait another 50 years for new treatments. Today, there are more lupus treatments in development than ever before.

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is on the front lines of the effort to advance the science and medicine of lupus and to bring down barriers that have impeded progress in lupus research. The LFA has established the Michael Jon Barlin Pediatric Lupus Research Program to enhance key understanding of research issues specific to lupus in children and identify novel, innovative basic/translational/clinical pilot projects. Earlier this year, the LFA launched its new Center for Clinical Trials Education (CCTE) through its website as a resource for people interested in learning about and joining lupus clinical trials.

On January 1st, turn on your TV and look for Nathalie Gonzales and Jessica Southern on Kaiser Permanente’s Rose Parade float!

In the following weeks, Nathalie and Jessica’s experience in the Rose Parade will be featured on the LFA website, They will be documenting their experience on the float with video and pictures that will be posted on the LFA website, and here in our blog.

Read more about lupus and children, teens, and young adults.

Photos: Nathalie Gonzales (top right); Jessica Southern (lower left)

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