The second annual walk/run to help those with a blood platelet disorder, "Pump It Up For Platelets," is scheduled to be held Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge, with this year's event especially honoring a Bridgewater teen who succumbed to the chronic condition earlier this year.
The Platelet Disorder Support Association served as a support group for Bridgewater resident Erik Anderson, who suffered from immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), an autoimmune disease, and it was a source of comfort for his mother, Susan—and now, about two months after his death, his mother is preparing for the second annual walk/run to benefit those who also suffer from the disease.
The second annual 5K walk/run through the park at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge will take place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. to benefit the Platelet Disorder Support Association in memory of Erik Anderson, 19, who died in May of complications from a bone marrow transplant.
“I am on the board of directors of this national organization, and Erik helped organize the first New Jersey walk/run before we left for Cincinnati last year [for his transplant],” Susan Anderson said. “He often attended meetings of the organization and volunteered at events.”
According to Susan Anderson, she started a New Jersey support group through the association with friend Linda McGuirl of Basking Ridge, who also suffers from the disease.
“Erik would often come and help us with the meeting,” Anderson said. “He would help set up and then participate in the group. Linda’s daughter, Melissa, would often come and help as well.”
Anderson said her son and Melissa McGuirl, a Ridge High School student, decided to run a fundraiser for the organization. At the same, she said, the association said it was kicking off a national walk/run event around the country.
“Erik and Melissa decided that would be the perfect event for our local New Jersey group,” Anderson said.
The goal of the walk is to raise awareness and funds for the association, of which Erik Anderson was also a member. Chronic ITP and platelet function disorders are the most common bleeding diseases, and about 200,000 people suffer from it.
The first run was held last October, although Erik Anderson was unable to attend because he was having his bone marrow transplant.
“[But] he helped set up a web page and publicize the event while we were out there,” Susan Anderson said. “The New Jersey walk raised more than $6,000 last year.”
Anderson said her son enjoyed being part of the association, and having a support group to talk to people about the disease.
“Erik really appreciated the opportunity to meet other patients that lived with ITP,” she said. “He would often share his story at the New Jersey meetings, and enjoyed meeting the other participants and hearing their stories.”
“He also attended several national meetings of the organization and had the opportunity to meet other teens with ITP,” she added. “They stayed connected through the years through Facebook and other online communities.”
For Anderson, being part of the group was important to her as well, and she said her son knew that.
“The website and meetings were a great source of information and comfort when Erik was first diagnosed,” she said. “I currently serve on the board of directors, and hope the organization will continue to grow and provide services for more families like ours.”
For more information about the walk, or to donate, visit The Rainbow Team’s page.