Saturday, June 23, proved to be the perfect day to Pump It Up For Platelets! ~ for a world free of ITP at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge. There were over 100 participants in the 5K walk/run that raised over $6,600 for PDSA (Platelet Disorder Support Association) programs and research. PDSA is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with a rare blood disorder known as immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and other platelet disorders through education, advocacy and research.
ITP is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to mount an attack against platelets in the blood. Without a sufficient number of platelets, a person with ITP is subject to spontaneous bleeding or bruising. Mother-daughter team Melissa McGuirl and Linda McGuirl of Basking Ridge, with the help of Susan Anderson and family of Bridgewater, organized this event to raise awareness for ITP and to remember their dear friend and the Anderson’s son, Erik Anderson, who had passed away in 2011 at the age of 18. Erik had several immune disorders and his life ended due to complications of a bone marrow transplant in 2011. Erik was an active member of PDSA and he helped coordinate the first Basking Ridge ITP Walk/Run back in 2010.
Melissa’s mother, Linda McGuirl has ITP and is a co-facilitator of the Central/North Jersey ITP support group. Susan Anderson also co-facilitates the local support group and is a past PDSA Board Member. These two women started the local ITP Support group five years ago to bring together ITP people and their family’s to share their stories and various treatment successes and failures.
“Since I have lived with ITP since 1985 I felt that I could help other people who had the same disease, I wanted to help people realize that they can live a happy life with ITP. Even with my very low counts, I managed to have 3 healthy children with the help of my doctors and the support of my family. I wanted to share my success story with others”, said Linda McGuirl
"It was wonderful to see all the people that supported and attended the event in Erik's memory, including former caregivers that treated Erik when he was ill, a local NJ family that we connected with in Cincinnati where he had his transplant, and a Connecticut teen with ITP that Erik had met a few years ago while attending a national PDSA conference. The outpouring of support was heartwarming."said Susan Anderson.
"Each year this event gets better and better. I am so grateful to my family and friends that helped us to make this event a huge success. It feels so good to be able to help my Mom and others affected by ITP. I is also a nice way to remember and honor my friend Erik who I met through PDSA”, Melissa McGuirl said.
In addition to the money collected that will be used for research, the McGuirls and the Andersons helped raise awareness in their local community for a disease they both knew all too well and they plan to make this an annual event.
“ITP is actually more then ten times more common then hemophilia, yet not that many people are aware of it,” said Susan Anderson.
“This years event was very touching. A young woman joined us who was recently diagnosed with ITP. She had never met another person with ITP. She came with her parents to meet other people with her rare illness and learn more about our local support group. In addition to many ITP patients, family and friends, I was delighted to see many Basking Ridge residents who came out simply to support a good cause and get some exercise.. Many of them had never of heard of ITP before and were more then happy to support our cause”, said Linda McGuirl.
Many local sponsors helped to make this event a success including O’Bagel, Basking Ridge; Massage Envy, Warren; 16 Handles, Warren; and RB Electric, Cranford.
For additional support during the year, the Central/North NJ ITP Support Group, which meets five times per year in the Morristown area, provides support and an information network for patients living with and managing ITP, caregivers, physicians, and others interested in ITP. For more information on this local support group or to volunteer for Pump It Up For Platelets! in NJ, contact Linda McGuirl at email@example.com.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Linda McGuirl at 908-764-1819 or firstname.lastname@example.org