Fighting Lupus and Cancer Starts With Your Feet in Irvine

Exercising and eating right can help prevent any number of diseases. You're on your own when it comes to consumption but for exercise you can walk all this next weekend in different parts of Irvine to help keep not only yourself healthy but millions of others as well. That's because the city just happens to find itself the site of separate walkathons for sufferers of two of man's nastiest diseases: lupus and cancer.

First, the Orange County Great Park—formerly known as the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station—hosts Saturday's Walk for Lupus Now, the Lupus Foundation of America's signature event aimed at raising funds to save lives from the autoimmune disease that afflicts more than 1.5 million Americans. Among them are more than 170,000 Californians, including two women I know. The last time I ran into both, you would not know they were suffering from anything.

Lupus is an acute and chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is unbalanced, causing inflammation and tissue damage to virtually every organ system in the body. One of the friends I mentioned above just told me this past weekend how she has suffered from an array of injuries, disorders and diseases that her doctors now suspect was caused all along by lupus, which had been undetected in blood test until just recently.

Despite having to take extra precautions because of the sun's harmful rays, she will be among the many Lupus sufferers walking in Irvine to try and help Orange County's Walk for Lupus Now reach its $75,000 fund-raising goal. More than 50 chapters around the country are holding events this weekend. Many walkers participate in the memory of friends and loved ones who have fallen to the disease.

Check in begins at 9 a.m., with the walk proceeding an hour later. Visit for more details. The Great Park intends to start balloon flights at 9 a.m. also—weather permitting.
That's also the time folks will start gathering across town at Irvine Valley College for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Teams composed of families, friends and/or co-workers check in at various times over the weekend to walk relay-style around the college's track, with the fun kicking up again at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Participants will have lined up sponsors before the event, which you can still join at The all-day, all-night event also features raffles, booths, live music, kids activities, hair-cutting and food donated by local restaurants.

Like the lupus event, Relay for Life often draws survivors of the disease and those memorializing loved ones lost to it. A sundown Luminaria Ceremony allows participants who purchase glowing luminarias at $10 each to circle the track while the names of survivors and victims are read aloud. It will be a moving experience in more ways than one.


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