Feb. 04, 2014

The Kassel Family Steps Up and Makes a Big Difference

In May 2011, Bonnie and Todd Kassel of Crystal Lake, Illinois learned that their 12-year-old daughter Taylor was diagnosed with the cruel mystery lupus nephritis; the previous six months had been a terrifying avalanche of sudden illnesses; doctor after doctor appointment; and endless emergency room visits. 

Devastated and afraid, Bonnie relied on her faith, her family and her community to transform her angst into lupus awareness, advocacy and action. Now that she finally knew why her daughter was so sick, what could they do to fight lupus? For the Kassel family, walking is a giant leap forward. For the community of Crystal Lake, including Taylor’s softball team the Crystal Lake Comets, it’s a chance to show support and put your best foot forward to help save lives.

Since 2012, for the love of their daughter and in honor of all people with lupus, the Kassel family; Bonnie and Todd, Taylor (now 16), Ben (15) and Baylee Rose (12) have been involved (with gusto!) in the Walk to End Lupus Now™  (Chicago), and “Taylor's Team” has raised more than $30,000, for the Lupus Foundation of America.  In 2012 Taylor was honored as the Chicago Walk's Ambassador.

Said Bonnie, “Todd and I can’t find a cure for lupus on our own, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. I can walk and I can encourage my friends and neighbors to do so too. I can help raise money for research.  I feel better when I know I am doing something.”

Walking is just the first step Bonnie is taking to raise money for and awareness about lupus. On May 10, 2014 she will chair the second annual Lupus Awareness Day event, in front of Benedict’s Restaurant, 401 N. Williams Street, Crystal Lake. IL Last year’s event raised nearly $8,000.   Here are some of Bonnie’s suggestions on how to raise funds for her walk team:

  • Engage local merchants. Invite the local bakery to make purple cupcakes and donate a portion of the proceeds.  Ask the neighborhood florist to do the same with purple flowers; partner with the local hair salon to feature purple hair extension clips. Ask coffee shops, dry cleaners, everyone-- if they could donate something/gift card to put in a basket for a raffle.
  • Meet with school administrators and student council representatives and sports teams. Many times they are looking for causes to support which can include in-kind services such as making signs, organizing a walk team to fundraise, and even helping to promote the event within the community. Bonnie even made presentations about lupus awareness at her children’s schools.
  • Go door to door for donations and items for baskets and sell raffles.
  • Create simple purple donation jars with materials from an arts and crafts store and ask merchants if you can leave them by the register for a few days.

Taylor and Bonnie have also been to Washington D.C. twice for lupus advocacy patients’ events and have actively been involved with fundraising for lupus and will continue their efforts until we find a cure.

When the Kassels walk, they do so with urgency and commitment to end lupus now. We should follow their example and combine our voices, with foot power, to end lupus now.

For information about joining a Walk to End Lupus Now, please visit walktoendlupusnow.org

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