Why I Walk: Kenia Villatoro
"Growing up wasn't as easy as it should have been. After being diagnosed with something that I had never heard of, my family and friends treated me as if I was dying. Then came along the medication, lab tests, and never ending doctors’ visits. This is not a life that a child should endure.
Being diagnosed at the young age of 11 made it hard to be a kid. I couldn’t play in the rain without swollen, painful joints. I couldn’t jump in the pool for the fear of breaking out in a horrible rash.
As I became a teenager I became more aware of what this horrible monster was. I was continuously bullied. Kids made fun of me because the rashes on my face & my hair loss.
I was so embarrassed, but too scared to tell someone because I didn’t want the teasing to get worse.
Once I had grown out of that stage, I realized that it was not something to be ashamed of. Lupus did not define who I was and what I have to offer. Every time I spoke about lupus everyone always asked "What is Lupus?"
I started to think of ways to impact the community and increase lupus awareness. In 2011, I decided to start a Walk to End Lupus Now team named Kenia's Purple Wings and attended my first walk in Tampa, FL in May 2011. Since then, my team has participated in a total of 9 walks.
When I turned 19, I lost 75% of my hair. I thought to myself, “This is unreal.” Soon after, depression kicked in. I thank God for the amazing family and friends that helped pull me out of my deep depression. Now, I just wear a wig. It’s been 5 years and, of course, I miss my hair, but this was the best solution for me.
I always dreamed of the moment I would become a mother. I was diagnosed at a young age and have never been in remission. I didn’t think it would ever happen. On April’s Fools Day 2013, my boyfriend and I told everyone I was pregnant as a joke. The next day, I just had a feeling that I should take a pregnancy test. Maybe it was a sign from God. Turns out, I was pregnant!
I had never in my life felt as healthy as I did those 9 months. My pregnancy was amazing thanks to the Grace of God. On November 15, 2013, I gave birth to the most amazing gift, my son, Jarrad Bryon Swindle Jr aka JB.
Watching him grow and learn new things makes my life worth living. He is my strength, my life line, my reason to NOT let lupus defeat me! He is 9 months, healthy and very active. Even on my worse days, I make sure that I'm on the floor playing with him, taking in every moment. His smile will brighten anyone's day. He is so lovable and sweet. There is not a day that passes that I do not thank my awesome God for this blessing! He is my miracle."