February 04, 2013

Solving the Cruel Mystery, One City at a Time

By Meghan Cunningham and Alisha Ladenburg

Pfew! January has been quite the busy month here at the Lupus Foundation of America. Our Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery Tour™ traveled to Los Angeles and Denver last month to solve the cruel mystery of lupus and end its devastating impact through our educational programs and 45-foot-long purple bus.

Visitors waiting lining up to tour the bus in Los AngelesThe bus in front of Pepsi Center for a
Denver Nuggets home game

We stopped at several locations around both cities with our bus and attracted the attention of many residents, including several celebrities. While in Los Angeles, model Mercedes Yvette (America’s Next Top Model), actor Ian Harding (Pretty Little Liar), and Tichina Arnold (Happily Divorced) came out to join the fight against lupus. All three know the importance of raising awareness and bringing attention to the cause; Ian and Tichina both have loved ones living with lupus while Mercedes was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 21. We are so thrilled to have their continued support.Thanks Mercedes, Ian, and Tichina!

(L-R) Tichina Arnold with her daughter Alijah, Ian Harding,  and Mercedes Yvette

We met so many people on the bus, from those who have been living with lupus for years and those who had never heard of lupus before. However, everyone was excited to view our interactive exhibits and to learn what it was like to live with lupus. A health educator at a local university told us that because of the exhibits on the bus, she realized the devastating impact of the disease and that she will incorporate lupus into her curriculum in the future. Another woman brought her husband to the bus in Denver on her lunch break. “This is such a great experience,” she later wrote on our Facebook page, “[especially] for those like my husband who doesn’t have lupus so that he can better understand what I go through every day.” 

A packed room in Denver for
Lupus: Learning and Living
A big part of this tour is Lupus: Learning and Living, an educational program for people with lupus and their families and friends. Leading doctors and speakers from around the country present on topics related to living and coping with lupus. After the presentation, we open up the stage for the audience to get the chance to ask some very candid questions and receive expert advice. It really showed how unique this disease was for everyone yet also showed that they were not alone in the fight against lupus. 

The education program has been a great success so far and to say we had a big turnout would be an understatement; the rooms were always packed with people eager to learn about lupus. We had the opportunity to learn more about the attendees and hear their stories as they checked in. While many people mentioned they were living with lupus, it was really moving to learn just how many people came in just wanting to learn more and lend their voice to the cause.

Thank you to everyone who came out to see us while we were in LA and Denver. We left both cities on such a high note and can’t wait to bring the full program to Dallas this weekend! For upcoming dates and locations, please visit us at cruelmystery.org

Meghan Cunningham, MPH, is the Education and Research Coordinator and Alisha Ladenburg is the Marketing and Communications Assistant with the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.

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