What’s better than a Saturday morning spending time with others who share something deeply in common – and getting much needed exercise? On May 21, 2016, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I wanted to be as a group of us hosted the inaugural Team NPF Walk in Sacramento.
The Los Angeles Walk in Santa Monica a few years ago counts as one of my favorites. The Santa Monica boardwalk, with the ocean skyline and sandy beaches, is a breathtaking site. I enjoyed meeting Ms. California there after having interviewed her for a psoriasis blog.
My family all woke up early for the one-hour drive from our house – that’s love! But what truly stands out to me the most from that event is the incredible feeling of standing tall with so many others affected by psoriatic disease.
I’ve always seen these events as incredible opportunities to support a cause of great importance to me: psoriasis research, patient support and community awareness. If you’ve never participated in a Team NPF event, you should definitely put that on your list of things to do.
I couldn’t wait for another Walk after I moved to the Sacramento area, but the San Francisco and Southern California events proved too far away. I thought, “Why not start one here in our own backyard?”
Be careful what you wish for
The topic came up in a discussion I had with Sonia Kalil, NPF’s field operations director in Northern California. Sacramento had never hosted a Walk. In a conference call with team members, I was asked to serve as a co-chair. While I had helped out at a Walk, I had never chaired or became that involved in the planning process.
I found out quickly the many details and tasks that come with organizing an event. For example, the team asked me to scout the site and the 5 kilometer route. I ended up taking a trip to consider the Walk stage and table layout, another to walk the initial route with a friend, and then a third to go over the final route with my wife. I welcomed the exercise, but each trip to the site took several hours.
Being able to volunteer with my family proved to be the most enjoyable part of organizing the Walk for me. I’m the only one in my family with psoriatic disease, but it’s a family affair when it comes to advocating for psoriatic causes. The whole family signed up for my team named after my blog: “The Itch to Beat Psoriasis.”
Prior to the Walk, my wife made calls to doctor’s offices and joined me on errands. My daughter applied her artistic talent to make a route map that included directions for walkers to follow.
Supportive family, successful Walk
The family love continued when I asked them to join me early on Saturday morning to help set up the site at Crocker Park near the state capitol. My wife is an early riser, but leaving at 6 a.m. confirmed her loving commitment to me and the cause. Other volunteers and organizers arrived around the same time. My kids made it around 7:30 a.m. to help with food preparation and as walk route sign-holders.
After introductions of our medical and pharmaceutical sponsors, and a quick warm-up, the group of almost 50 of us headed toward the state capitol. That time of talking to others made me realize the value of the event. Volunteers could see their efforts making a real difference in people’s lives.
One family told me they always wanted join a Walk, but there was nothing in Sacramento. A couple others told me I could contact them to help out in the future. The Walk medical chair, Dr. Emanual Maverakis of the University of California, Davis, told me he wanted to increase his department’s efforts in raising awareness of next year’s events – not just for the patients he sees, but for his medical staff as well.
I count the inaugural Team NPF Walk in Sacramento a great success. I look forward to building on the foundation of this year’s inaugural Walk in hopes of contributing toward finding a cure for psoriatic disease.
Rev. Howard Chang has lived with severe psoriasis and eczema for more than 35 years, since childhood. In addition to actively blogging and tweeting about skin-related concerns, he is the National Psoriasis Foundation Northern California Division Sacramento Committee Chair.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.