Press Release For Immediate Release
Hundreds Hike & Ride on the Hook for Lyme Disease Research & Awareness
Weather Cooperates for 1st NJ Lyme Awareness Walk/Ride by national Lyme Disease Association
Monmouth County, May 12, 2008–Over 230 people came to raise funds for a disease that is newly infecting tens of thousands of New Jersey residents every year, Lyme disease. The participants came not only from Monmouth County but also from all over the state and from other states such as Pennsylvania and New York. They came as patients and as families and friends of patients to lend support to the NJ-based national Lyme Disease Association (LDA) for its first bike ride and walk, Spotlight on Lyme, held May 18 on scenic Sandy Hook.
Sandy Hook, a Peninsula bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the East and Sandy Hook Bay to the West, is part of the Gateway National Parks Recreation Area. Bikers and walkers were treated on Sunday to the natural sand dunes which border the Atlantic Ocean and a spectacular view of the New York Skyline visible only on a clear day which Sunday was. Bright green shirts, symbolic of Lyme disease, with a lighthouse image spotlighting a tick, dotted the area under sunny skies, as the 50+bikers rode 15 miles and the 150 walkers went 3 miles, some participants with canes and in wheel chairs due to the devastating effects of their Lyme disease.
Said Tinton Falls resident Joan Wire whose son participated in the walk in his wheel chair: “Lyme is a multi-systemic disease, the effects of which are not well publicized in New Jersey, so people are unaware of its debilitating nature. Today’s walk helped to change that picture by showing the victims of Lyme are everywhere in New Jersey and nationwide, and they are fighting for their very lives.”
Many children registered for the event─ appropriate since children are at the highest risk of acquiring Lyme disease. They were able to participate in games and face painting and snack on donated food throughout the event. DJ, Dru, donated his services, playing music for the crowd. LDA President Pat Smith gave a brief talk before the event, wearing a different green tee shirt sporting the Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group Lyme Walk, which took place the day prior, sponsored by the by the LDA affiliate there. Ms. Smith mentioned that Lyme is a worldwide problem found in 65 countries and is in all 50 states here. Lyme walks are happening nationwide, one held for LDA in Maine and an upcoming one in Corning, New York by the LDA Chapter there. She also mentioned the need for passage of the federal Lyme bill (Smith NJ-4), bottled up in the House Health Subcommittee by Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6)—a bill which provides much needed Lyme research monies.
Walk Chairman Kim Cronin, Little Silver, was happy with Sunday’s turnout. She said: “We have opened the door for creating awareness here in Monmouth County and in New Jersey. Now is the time for that awareness, since so many more ticks carrying so many more diseases are biting us and our children. Our government has not taken a lead in awareness, so it is necessary for organizations like LDA who depend upon volunteers to become the leaders in this area.” When asked during the height of the event if she would chair another walk next year, she replied with a gin, “I am not sure now is a good time to ask.” Later however, she was seen reviewing paperwork for the 2009 walk/ride.
New Jersey ranks third in CDC reported Lyme case numbers nationwide, with Monmouth County 2nd in cases in the State. NJ also has one of the highest incidences in the country for babesiosis, a malaria-like illness transmitted by the same deer tick that transmits Lyme disease. The deer tick is now joined by the more fast and aggressive Lone Star tick which is spreading STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness), a Lyme-like disease with no viable test, and also other diseases.
Many New Jerseyans currently suffer from co-infections, more than one tick-borne disease at the same time. Additional tick-borne diseases prevalent in NJ and the Northeast include anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, tick paralysis and tick-borne Bartonella. Often these residents are unaware they have Lyme disease, since they may be misdiagnosed with MS, ALS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, Alzheimer’s and sometimes, even autism.
According to LDA President Pat Smith, a Wall Township resident, “This walk was so well run and so necessary to Lyme disease here. We used to host many events in NJ in the 90s, but the lack of interest by government officials over time led to a lack of coverage and lack of interest by people. This event shows people’s hunger for knowledge and research for a cure─ Lyme disease has become a household word, yet government is still ignoring the rising numbers and ailing patients. It’s a travesty leading to people becoming much sicker than necessary if they were educated about the disease.”
ABOUT THE LYME DISEASE ASSOCIATION (LDA): —The Lyme Disease Association (LDA) is a national volunteer nonprofit based in Monmouth & Ocean Counties that devotes ninety-eight percent of its funds to programs–funding research, education, prevention and patient support. LDA-has funded research projects coast to coast─some of which have been published in peer review including JAMA, Neurology, Infection, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Recognizing that the ability to find solutions involves a multi-disciplinary effort, the LDA has partnered with businesses, patient groups, celebrities, government, and the medical community to unlock the secrets of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. LDA and Time for Lyme, its Connecticut affiliate, raised funds and collaborated with Columbia University to open an endowed Lyme disease research center there in New York in 2007. LDA also has a fund for children with no insurance initiated by internationally acclaimed author Amy Tan. Go to www.LymeDiseaseAssociation.org.