Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Brittany Davis-Green - firstname.lastname@example.org
CLARKSDALE – A Coahoma Community College staff member is hoping to paint the campus and Clarksdale community purple each Thursday throughout the months of April and May in an effort to raise awareness about lupus.
CCC Social Science, Education and Psychology Administrative Assistant Ryne Gipson of Clarksdale is spearheading the movement, called #PurpleThursday, after being diagnosed with the chronic, autoimmune disease in April 2009.
Lupus happens when something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria and germs. The result is the production of autoantibodies that cause inflammation and can damage any part of the body—including skin, joints and/or organs inside the body.
During #PurpleThursday, individuals are encouraged to wear purple, the official color Lupus Awareness, every Thursday in an effort to raise awareness about the disease and show support for people, like Gipson, who are battling it.
According to Gipson, the month of April was chosen because it was the month he was diagnosed and May because it’s recognized nationally as Lupus Awareness month.
“That’s my goal with the #PurpleThursday is to just raise awareness,” said Gipson. “My cousin, Nneka Gipson, heard about Lupus events from another relative who lives in Atlanta, and we thought it would be cool if we could do something similar here because we currently have very little going on to raise awareness about lupus.”
As part of the campaign, supporters are encouraged to take a “selfie” in their purple and upload the photo to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #PurpleThursday. They can also show their support for Gipson by “tagging” him in the photo using the username @rsqipson on Instagram and the name Ryne Stewart Gipson Sr., on Facebook.
Supporters can also support the campaign by purchasing a purple t-shirt that reads “Losing is not an option!!! Raising Lupus Awareness” available online at http://www.booster.com/rla . Proceeds from the shirts will be donated to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Gipson said he particularly hopes to promote the campaign on CCC’s campus because he was a 23-year-old college student at Delta State University when his own diagnosis was made.
In addition to tackling his last semester of college, Gipson was also working a stressful job—two factors he believe contributed to the onset of the disease, which can be brought on by stress and anxiety.
At such a young age, Gipson said it was hard to accept initially.
“I just felt like there wasn’t anything wrong with me at first,” he said.
So, despite doctor’s warning to not get too much sun exposure, Gipson decided to spend hours hanging out at the pool with friends. The next day he was severely sunburned—his first physical indication of the disease.
“When I was first diagnosed, I had very little knowledge about the disease. But then I started doing my own research and learned that it’s a auto-immune disease with no cure,” he said. “The crazy part is you can have lupus and I can have lupus, but we experience totally different symptoms. …The worst part of the disease is the uncertainty. I can go to sleep tonight, and won’t be able to move the next morning because of pain.”
Since then, Gipson has partnered with other local individuals living with lupus, such as CCC alumna Olivia Garcia of Clarksdale, to raise awareness about the disease in the Clarksdale area.
“I really appreciate everyone joining me in raising awareness about lupus because so many people are affected, yet so many people don’t know about it,” he said. “Statistics shows that disease mostly affects African- American women, but myself and Olivia are proof that it can happen to anyone.”
Despite the affects lupus has had on his life, Gipson said he still feels blessed.
“I dare not complain because I’m doing a lot better than many people facing this disease. I’m just thankful for the support and hope to educate others because as they say, ‘knowing is half the battle’” he said.
Research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus, and more than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country. It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus, which tends to strike mostly women of childbearing age. However, men, children and teenagers can develop lupus, too.
Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinas, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans are diagnosed with lupus two or three times more frequently than Caucasians; however, lupus affects people of all races and ethnicities.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Gipson and Garcia’s story or to purchase a t-shirt to show your support.