Over the next few weeks thousands of people will be running, walking and eating to raise awareness about celiac disease, but they’ll also be raising money for research.
This Sunday, the event in Rochester, New York will host it’s 12th annual Making Tracks for Celiacs event. It is expected to bring in about 600 participants for their walk and food fair.
One of the organizers, Katie Vokes, told me earlier this week, “The most important thing for anyone with celiac disease (or other gluten-related disorders) is to know that you are not alone,” Vokes said. “It is so reassuring to meet other people who have the same challenges staying on a gluten-free diet. The walk is a wonderful way to meet others and encourage each other.”
More than 60 companies are also contributing to the event. “The food fair is an excellent way to try different foods without the financial commitment,” Vokes said. “Since most store-bought gluten-free foods are more costly to make and purchase, it is quite helpful to know what products you like when grocery shopping.”
Similar events will be held in May in Syracuse, NY; Merrimack, NH; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, and Grosse Pointe Shores, MI (Tri-County). Baltimore will hold its event this year in October and Birmingham already had their event earlier this month. You can see all the locations on the www.celiacwalk.org website.
Of course another big reason for putting these events on is to raise money for the Center for Celiac Research in Boston. Local groups can keep up to 25% of the money raised to help with their local initiatives and to pay for event expenses. According to the CFCR, funds raised during these walks have helped the organization do some major work over the last 13 years.
- Completed the Celiac Prevalence study which found 1 in 133 Americans have celiac. It put CD on the map in the US in 2003.
- Developed the diagnostic test (Ttg) for CD which is now used worldwide.
- Developed the genetic test for CD.
But there is much work yet to be done, including discovering the biomarkers for gluten sensitivity (which could help lead to a test for GS). Scientists at CFCR also are hoping to use celiac disease as a model for understanding other autoimmune diseases.
Find out about all of the dates, locations and details of the event nearest you or if you can’t attend a walk, you can still donate. You can do all of these things through celiacwalk.org.
*Disclaimer: I am very involved in the Minneapolis/St. Paul event. I have been a part of the committee every year since the beginning, including a few years where I was the lead coordinator.