New Partnership with Alianza – Gilbert Motorsports to Drive Lupus Awareness
Last week, Alianza – Gilbert Motorsports announced an initiative program for its 2019 season to raise public awareness and understanding of lupus. As part of the partnership, a program has been designed to enable fans and spectators to donate funds for lupus research and education. Additionally, lupus resources will be shared trackside at all events to educate people about the disease. The Lupus Foundation of America logo and branding will be prominently displayed on the team’s transporter, race cars, crew gear, drivers’ race suits and in all team correspondence.
The partnership formed when Lorne Kelly, Co-founder of the Alianza Motorsports program, learned the story of Emilee Hunt – an employee of RTD Media and Management, a company Alianza Motorsports works with. Kelly was so moved by her story, he knew that they needed to work with the Lupus Foundation of America to support her.
Emilee shares about her lupus journey and what this partnership means to her in a Q&A:
Can you tell us about your journey with lupus?
When I was nine years old, I went to the nurse for a bandaid for a blister from the monkey bars. The nurse noticed that my hands looked odd. She told my mom about what she thought I had and said we needed to go to Riley Children’s Hospital. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s and we knew I would develop an autoimmune disease, we just weren’t sure when.
After a lot of sick time, I was diagnosed with lupus at age 15. We couldn’t find anything to help me and I was spending most of every month in the hospital. I wasn’t able to walk, take a shower, brush my hair or teeth etc. After a long five years or so of this, I started Benlysta and have been on it for a little over two years. I am two years hospital free in February of this year!
How did the idea of a partnership with Alianza-Gilbert Motorsports come about?
I attended my first event with Alianza last season and quickly developed a close relationship with them. They took care of me as if I were their own and once I started sharing my story with them, the idea came up about pairing up with an organization for the 2019 season. They thought that the Lupus Foundation of America would be perfect.
Why is this partnership important to you?
I love to do all that I can to raise awareness of the disease. I have spent a few years working closely with my Dad (who is also involved in the motorsports industry) to create awareness in multiple ways, and for my two worlds of having lupus and working in racing to collide, I am so thankful. People in the racing industry are my family away from home, they are who I spend most weekends with and where I love to be. So, for them to be so on board with this idea to support me and everyone else in the world battling lupus is extremely heartwarming for me.
What do you hope the partnership will do?
I hope this partnership will create more of an awareness of lupus. I have always been open with my story in hopes that it helps someone connect. A lot of people don’t know what lupus is so when it is explained or they know someone personally with it, it brings a spark to knowing more. I have also noticed that when I tell people about my story, they know of or know someone that also has it, which creates even more awareness. I also hope that we will be able to raise money for lupus research!
What is one thing you hope people will learn about lupus from this partnership?
I hope people will learn how it affects people’s everyday life. There are times on race weekends when I am so tired or sore from the long travel days and work days running around the track, but I often look totally fine. I hope people learn how serious the disease is and how many people it takes a toll on, but that through the support from other people, we are able to make it through those daily battles.