Friday, June 15, 2012

Taking steps to fight lupus

Valley native walks in honor of lifelong friend, former student

Alliance for Lupus Research


On Saturday Ansonia resident Laura Poquette will be hosting the fifth annual walk to benefit the Alliance for Lupus Research.

The fund-raising goal is $15,000; all of the money received goes to the Alliance to support research into the causes of the chronic disease.

The event will be held rain or shine at Jarvis Field in the Nolan Athletic Complex on Wakelee Avenue in Ansonia.

Poquette's daughter, Erika Poquette, 21, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease when she was in eighth grade. She is now about to enter her senior year at Providence College and her mom said she is doing well and holding her own.

Laura Poquette said last night she works on organizing the event for an entire year.

She gets breakfast and lunch donated for the walkers, offers fantastic raffle prizes, and sets up inflatables for children as well as a dunk tank.

There will be an auction and music by DJ John Voket. News 8 personality Erica Grow will be the emcee.

Derby resident Ellen Baczek Amodeo takes part in the walk each year in honor of her lifelong friend, Margie Kofarago Thomas of Shelton.

She said Thomas, who worked as an intensive care nurse, was diagnosed about 14 years ago. She is no longer able to work, Amodeo said.

Amodeo, an Ansonia native, said she and Thomas, both 61, used to sit on the porch at Thomas' family home in Shelton when they were young "and think about what our lives would be like."

Things didn't quite work out as they had planned, she said. Amodeo was widowed, and Thomas was diagnosed with lupus. She said there are degrees of severity of lupus, and Thomas has a more serious form.

Amodeo used to teach at the former St. Joseph School in Ansonia and Erika Poquette was in her first grade class, she said. She also taught Erika's younger brother, Tyler Poquette.

Amodeo said participating in the walkathon means a lot, "especially if you know someone" affected by lupus. She said she didn't know much about the disease prior to her friend's diagnosis.

Laura Poquette said she is hoping for a big turnout for the walk. "Our fund-raising is down $2,000 from this time last year," she said.

Registration is at 9 a.m. and the 5K (3.1-mile) walk steps off at 10 a.m.

I had the pleasure of meeting Erika Poquette when she was a student at Ansonia High School. She is a bright and vivacious young woman and I wish her all the best in her future career. I hope this year's event is the most successful one to date.

Amodeo said even if people prefer not to walk, she hoped they would attend to support the event. "Laura works all year for this. I want it to be a success for her," Amodeo said.

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