HARLINGEN — When Jay Garcia’s wife was diagnosed with Lupus at age 51, he had no idea an illness with that name even existed.
Now, years later, he is leading the effort in the Valley to make people more aware and raise funds to cure the chronic disease.
So far, Garcia’s efforts have helped raise more than $25,000 and the fourth Walk to End Lupus Now and Fun Run is set for Saturday, 8 a.m. at Pendleton Park, where his group’s goal is to raise $10,000.
“My wife suffers with Lupus,” he said. “That is one of the reasons I go all out on this event. What I try to do is solicit as much as I can. There are still a lot of people who are in denial or don’t know and I just want to help find a cure for this ugly disease.”
Garcia said Lupus is often difficult to diagnose. His wife has Lupus of the skin. Her body’s immune system basically is trying to take over the skin.
There are many people out there who don’t realize there are support groups and help for those with Lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America is a national organization that for years has held fundraising events in Houston and Dallas.
Garcia said until four years ago, there was nothing like that in South Texas. With the help of the foundation, he made it happen and the event continues to grow.
“They told us if you want to organize it, it is a great way to raise funds,” he said. “We tried it and it worked out.”
Last year’s event was the best with about 150 people participating and Garcia is hoping for more this year.
As of late last week, Garcia said already $5,800 of the $10,000 goal has been raised.
“I want to continue to get more people to meetings and continue to raise awareness and money for this very worthy cause,” he said.
His ultimate goal — to help find a cure.