This June, I will be running the Stampede Scleroderma 5k at the Detroit Zoo. June is Scleroderma Awareness Month. An estimated 200,000 people are diagnosed with this autoimmune disease in the United States, the same amount of people as MS. Similarly, scleroderma doesn’t have a cure, however, many people have not heard of this disease.

My aunt Ginnie has been living with the symptoms of scleroderma for about 12 years. She went from riding her bike one summer at Dodge Park to putting it away until the next spring, when she discovered she just could not ride anymore. Luckily, her scleroderma has been slower moving. After referrals to testing many organs while living downstate, it was her primary care doctor after she moved up north who instructed her to see an arthritis doctor. Finally, after a test to determine what kind of arthritis she had, and among blood tests, she was diagnosed with this debilitating illness. This was about four years ago.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease. It is very difficult to diagnose and there is no cure, only ways to alleviate symptoms. Not only does it harden the skin externally but the internal organs as well. Scleroderma inflames joints and muscles. Specifically, scleroderma affects my aunt’s shoulders and mouth, among other parts. It makes it difficult for her to get dental work complete and swallow food. She receives treatment every few years to stretch her esophagus.

The US Department of Health and Human Services releases actual and estimated funds for each fiscal year on hundreds of causes and illnesses ranging from underage drinking, to cardiovascular health, to eating disorders. Of course, not one disease or cause should take precedent over another. These values are comprised of grants, contracts, and fundraising efforts. In 2015, MS received $94 million, ALS received $49 million, and scleroderma received just $22 million for research.

Stampede Scleroderma allows runners to fight scleroderma through fundraising, in which the funds go directly to the Scleroderma Foundation Michigan Chapter. The Scleroderma Foundation focuses on supporting patients, educating patients and professionals, research for treatments (and ultimately a cure), and advocacy.

One amazing thing about running is doing something you love to benefit others. I have created Team Ginnie and have a fundraising goal of $250. I would love for you to join me on June 4, 2017 at the Detroit Zoo for Stampede Scleroderma.

Early registration for the 5k is $35, and when signed up under Team Ginnie, it contributes to my fundraising goal. There is also a one mile run/walk. Bonus: after the run/walk, you can enjoy free admission to the zoo for the rest of the day!

Visit to register and learn more about this autoimmune disease.