ALR Walk Raises Over $250,000

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ALR Walk Raises Over $250,000

Smiles, sunshine, and laughter sparked a tremendous day for an even greater cause at Eisenhower Park on Saturday morning.  The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) received yet another incredible turnout for the 3rd Annual Long Island Walk With Us to Cure Lupus.

Of all the radiant smiles ready to march, one in particular belonged to Lisa Barisano, who has lupus and was looking as happy and healthy as the beautiful morning itself.

"It's just a great feeling coming to this event, I've been very lucky," she said.  "It's great that the Jets come; so many people look up to them so I'm just so thankful that they're here year after year and help raise money to eventually find a cure."

She and her sister-in-law, Elbira Barisano, watched and laughed as Lisa's son Anthony slipped away from his sister Alexa in their two-seater stroller to accomplish in his own personal goal of the day.

With his head tilted way back, young Anthony peered up to one of the largest things he might have ever witnessed this close up.  It wasn't the Generation Jets Fest inflatable linemen "Big Bubba" standing 25' high, it was rookie tackle Ed Blanton, all 6'9" of him extending his colossal hand way down to the knee-high toddler. 

"All morning long he's been looking to find the biggest player and give him a big high five!" explained his aunt, Elbira, who has walked with Lisa for the past three years. "It's such a wonderful event and it's great that the Jets come here every year, it's a fun time, and they're great hosts."

With Anthony's task complete, an even larger mission was well in gear, as the 5K walk was just moments away from commencing.

The players – nearly every rookie as well as veteran wide receivers Justin McCareins and Jerricho Cotchery - spent a morning session of signing autographs, posing for photos and taking in the genuine camaraderie of lupus patients, volunteers and donators alike.

"It's a great event, it helps bring a lot of money and attention to a disease that not a lot of people know about," said Cotchery. "It's wonderful to come back here again and keep adding to the cause."

Jets coach Eric Mangini, GM Mike Tannenbaum, and Chairman/CEO Woody Johnson took to the stage along with the players, coaches, staff members and family to offer some much-deserved gratitude to kick off the walking portion of the day. 

"This is really amazing, we started out with four people three years ago, now look at this," said Johnson, referring to the 650 people in attendance. 

Johnson, whose own daughter was diagnosed with Lupus as a teenager, is the National Walk Chairman and has been an avid figure in the fight for a cure for years now. "Our attitude towards lupus, our goal, they're all the same - to treat, prevent, or cure lupus, so 100% of the money we raise goes to research."

Mangini added a bit of relieving news for his first year men, in this, their first ALR walk.

"The rookies are pretty excited today because they finally get to walk and not run, so that's a huge plus for them," joked the coach.  "The Jets really believe in helping others, so it's so nice to see so many players coaches and support staff here today. Enjoy the day and enjoy each other, we're taking a very important step today in curing lupus."

Upon coach's orders, up-and-coming Jets correspondent Anthony Schlegel took the microphone to offer the crowd some minor entertainment for their major commitment. Schlegel, apparently unmoved with the lack of noise and clamor, initiated the famous J-E-T-S chant to rally up the troops, which echoed loudly through the park as one and all screamed along with the long-haired linebacker.

President of the ALR, Barbara Boyts couldn't be more ecstatic about the turnout, the weather, the endless list of volunteers and generous donators. The Jets alone raised more then $30,000 for single day, which had a grand total of somewhere in the vicinity of its $250,000 goal, as constant donations are still being added up.

"It means a lot to the people with lupus, a disease that's been neglected even though it affects as many as one million Americans," said Boyts.  "What we do today makes a big difference for them because it's been known for 30 years and there's still no cure.  This is a very uplifting moment for all of us to have all the players and the whole team involved; it really gets the word out."

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic, potentially devastating autoimmune disease in which the immune system turns against the body's own cells and tissues, causing inflammation and tissue damage. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. It affects people of all ages, including children, but it most often strikes people when they are between the ages of 15 and 45. Nine out of ten people with lupus are women, while it is three times more common among African American women than among Caucasian women, and is also more common in women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent.

For more information on future events, email walks@lupusresearch.org, log onto the Long Island Walk with Us to Cure Lupus website or call the Alliance for Lupus Research toll free at 866-WALK-ALR (925-5257).

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