Walk Your A.S. Off – Recap

Walk Your A.S. Off – Recap

Walk Your A.S. Off isn’t just a humorous and clever title that piques your interest – it’s a movement for good. The name refers to a national walk that sponsors Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S), a form of arthritis that mainly affects inflammation in the spine, and related autoimmune diseases. The walk commenced on March 1st and lasted until May 4th, which was World A.S. Day. During the two month period, A.S. sufferers and supporters formed teams and counted how many steps they took over the course of the Walk in an effort to keep themselves moving and to hit their goal of 478 million steps, which is the distance from earth to the moon in footsteps. The goal was far exceeded and the challenge collected 654,568,770 steps this year.

TeamSpiritedSpondys

Kelly Warner and Sabrina Marshall, two A.S. sufferers and enthusiastic participants embarked on the challenge this past year and while both found it to be challenging, both agreed that the payoff was worth it. Warner was able to almost beat the record of 65,871 steps in one day by achieving 64,649. Marshall, the Captain of the team she founded, the Spirited Spondy’s, took a total of 1,099,606 steps individually and 45,298,928 collective steps for her team.

Both women have similar stories in that they were equally affected by A.S., which changed their lives dramatically. Warner suffered off and on from arthritis-related diseases since 1999 and Marshall has been an A.S. sufferer for over six years. However, despite their pain and suffering, they also both agreed that Walk Your A.S. Off was a huge help in getting them moving.

Though walking was the main source of getting an accurate “step count”, Marshall also said she used a conversion chart that converted other daily activities which offered the same health results as walking, into steps. She could paint and work in the garden to supplement her walks to achieve credit and she was utilizing her body’s movements in a myriad of ways, which is crucial when diagnosed with A.S.

“I learned my body can do a lot more than I thought it could,” Marshall said. “It’s okay if you can’t do more than ten steps a day because one day you’ll do twenty! It only benefits your health and helps raise awareness for our disease.”

Warner agreed that she was surprised by what she was able to accomplish. She became so attuned to her surroundings on a bike ride one evening, she was shocked when she realized how big of a hill she climbed.

kelly2

The underlying message that Walk Your A.S. Off demonstrates allows participants to forget about their limitations and just focus on motivating themselves and each other to reach a universal goal. The support that the two women reached while engaging in the event was overwhelming to them as well. Not only were online fans cheering them on, but also people off the street who had no idea what Ankylosing Spondylitis was.

What kept the women going despite hitting hard times and days of severe pain was the community of other walkers across the globe. For Marshall, who had a team to lead, she felt a responsibility of others looking up to her. She had to set a good example and not let her team down, which in turn prompted her own personal successes. Warner, too, was inspired by the enormous following Walk Your A.S. Off provided, even though toward the beginning of the challenge she found herself in a rut. She credited the challenge for helping her get back on her feet – literally.

“Our walk gives people a positive and active way to not only do something good for themselves and their health, but to speak with people about our need to find a cure for these very difficult & potentially disabling diseases that strike young people in the prime of their lives,” said Walk Your A.S. Off founder, Jenna Visscher. “I am so proud of the A.S. community for coming together with this patient driven grassroots effort.”

Only in its sophomore year, Walk Your A.S. Off has already become a huge success. With a following so vast and so supportive and with the money raised going to reputable research, this challenge is one to watch in the future.

Learn more by visiting http://WalkYourASOff.com

ANRF
Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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