It was the summer of 1966 and Beverly Foster of Portland, Oregon, was approaching a big birthday: She was about to turn 30. But she didn’t feel like celebrating.
It wasn’t aging that bothered Beverly. She had had psoriasis for more than 10 years and she was exhausted from the stress. Remember, this was 1966. Psoriasis was poorly understood, even by dermatologists. As for treatments, you could choose among creams, lotions and coal tar. There wasn’t much anyone could do for you beyond that.
Foster told her husband, Larry, that the one thing she wanted was to talk to other people with psoriasis. Larry dutifully placed an ad in the local newspaper on Aug. 29, 1966 (Beverly’s birthday), looking for just those people.
Beverly and the people who answered the ad enjoyed talking to each other by phone, so they met in the Fosters’ living room. When they outgrew that space, they met in restaurants, libraries and borrowed offices. They realized that they had a lot to learn about psoriasis, so they invited dermatologists to their meetings. They saw that almost no research was being conducted into this disease, so they started raising money for research. They formed the Psoriasis Society of Oregon and, in 1967, the National Psoriasis Foundation.
“For my part, this was a turning point,” Beverly wrote years later. “My disease was not just a handicap but also the reason for my taking a new lease on life. There were people I could help. I could do something!”
Beverly Foster and all the folks who stepped forward to help didn’t have many resources. But they had hope. They hoped to educate themselves, educate the public, advocate for fair treatment, and fund the research that would lead us, step by step, to a cure.
We’ve excelled in all of these areas, but especially in research. In 1987, NPF funded its first grant, and we haven’t looked back. In 2019, we awarded 41 grants totaling $2.8 million, including the PsA Diagnostic Test Grants. And we established two new funding opportunities for 2020: The Psoriasis Prevention Initiative and the Milestones to a Cure grant.
Half a century later, we are living in the world our founders hoped to see.
Introducing Founders’ Week
To celebrate our history, in February 2020 we introduced Founders’ Week. Our goal was to build on the achievements of the past by raising the money we need to support our mission: to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected.
Our first Founders’ Week included daily activities: you could download a free fact sheet on comorbidities, read a story about NPF-funded research and how it helps you, tell your lawmakers about the far-reaching impacts of psoriatic disease, meet people like you at a Team NPF event, and make a gift to help us find a cure.
While Beverly and the people she called her “telephone friends” were busy creating NPF, something amazing happened: they also created a community. Today, it’s our turn to build on their work and make this community even stronger. We hope you’ll join us.
Thank you to Dermarest® for supporting the inaugural Founders’ Week.