DETROIT, March 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (AARDA) today officially kicks off National Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month by launching its yearlong 25th anniversary celebration with the #25for25 campaign. #25for25 invites individuals and organizations the world over to recognize AARDA's achievements on behalf of people with autoimmune disease and support its work going forward by donating $25 to the organization (www.aarda.org).
Emmy-nominated actress, Kellie Martin along with Haley Ramm, star of ABC Family's Chasing Life and recent guest star on the CW series The Originals, have teamed up to lead the #25for25 campaign. Autoimmune disease has touched the lives of both actresses and AARDA has been there to help. Kellie's 19-year old sister, Heather, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 1998 from an undiagnosed case of lupus, while Haley's mother, Barbara, struggles daily with multiple autoimmune diseases, including relapsing polychondritis.
AARDA is the nation's only non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women's health issue, and promoting a collaborative research effort in order to find better treatments and a cure for all autoimmune diseases.
"For 25 years, AARDA has worked tirelessly, acting as the voice of autoimmune disease patients, advocating for their needs, health and well-being, often in the face of misunderstanding physicians, family, friends and co-workers. Please join me in the #25for25 campaign to say thank you to AARDA and support its important work going forward into the next quarter century," said Kellie (@kelliemartin).
"This year the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association celebrates 25 years of helping people with autoimmune diseases and their families – just like mine," said Haley (@halesbells). "For AARDA, that means 25 years of making a real difference in people's lives….fighting for patient's rights…. raising money for research…educating the world about autoimmune diseases….and insisting on better treatments and diagnostic tools for patients. Let's thank them for their amazing work." (See video at http://tinyurl.com/hdwtoec)
Over 25 years, AARDA has significantly moved the needle in all aspects of the autoimmune disease agenda, from patient care and research to education and advocacy. Among its accomplishments are:
- Sponsor/support more than 70 public forums in 28 U.S. states and five other countries
- Help tens of millions of autoimmune disease patients and their families around the globe, providing information, resources and referrals through the 800 numbers, web site, email, mail, patient educator and in person at events
- Initiate/fund more than 125 research grants and fellowships at prestigious research institutions and/or in partnership with various National Institutes of Health institutes and offices that have furthered the collective understanding of autoimmunity and autoimmune diseases
- Award nearly $5 million in research grants, fellowships and medical school scholarships
- Sponsor, support or provide speakers for 155 research/scientific/clinical meetings and conferences in 23 U.S. states and 20 other countries
- Create in 1998 and facilitate the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG), today a coalition of 38 single autoimmune disease patient organizations, to advocate on behalf of the millions of autoimmune disease patients in the U.S. about key autoimmune and health care related legislative issues
- Obtain designation in 2010 of March as National Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month
- Advocate from the very beginning on Capitol Hill on behalf of autoimmune patients and their families, including
- Creating local advocacy networks
- Providing testimony and advocate for language resulting in successful
- Establishment of the NIH Autoimmune Disease Coordinating Committee
- Increase in NIH budget for autoimmune diseases by $30 million
- Passage of the Children's Health Act of 2000 with inclusion of major autoimmune language resulting in the NIH Office of the Director developing a national autoimmune research strategic plan with outside input from scientific and patient groups
- Organizing ongoing regular Capitol Hill visits for AARDA representatives, AARDA celebrity spokesperson Kellie Martin, patients and researchers to raise awareness of autoimmunity and autoimmune disease
"Despite our humble beginnings in one room in Detroit, AARDA always had a big vision to be the singular voice for the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from the 100-plus known autoimmune diseases," said Virginia Ladd (@AARDATweets), founder and executive director of AARDA. "When we started, most people thought autoimmune disease was AIDS. Today, while there is improved understanding, AADRA will not rest until autoimmunity is included in all medical school curricula, the public understands the debilitating nature of these chronic diseases, including the profound fatigue virtually all AD patients deal with, and most important, all patients can get a correct diagnosis in a timely manner and full access to the medicines that can save their lives."
About American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is the nation's only non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women's health issue, and promoting a collaborative research effort in order to find better treatments and a cure for all autoimmune diseases. For more information, please visit www.aarda.org.
SOURCE American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)