Steve Lombard wrote -
Hi, and thanks for visiting my donor page. The photo is of me approaching the finish line for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon, last September - my tenth year participating in and completing this event, held every Labor Day weekend since 2006. I am a Legacy Runner - one of 445 remaining participants as of the start of last year's event who have completed every Disneyland Half Marathon - and I am in training for the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon, coming up on September 4th.
If I have approached you in the past couple of years to ask for donations on my behalf to the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA), then you know my story already, and the story of this amazing charitable organization that has helped me and countless other people across the country struggling with either Ankylosing Spondylitis or a related disease.
There has been so much tragedy in the past year – war, acts of terrorism, mass shootings, devastating floods, wildfires and epidemics, to name just some, and there is a real need for all of humanity to step forward and provide whatever help they can - be it through direct personal action, or donations to those who are able to help in our stead.
Every person is unique in their passions, and in their choices of what causes to support. I respect your choices, and only ask that you consider, in addition to the support you are already providing elsewhere, a donation to support my efforts on behalf of SAA.
I worked for a number of years as a Post Production Supervisor in the entertainment industry, and was blessed to be able to work on a show called "Sports Night", which was written by Aaron Sorkin ("A Few Good Men", "The West Wing", "The Social Network") and aired from 1998 to 2000. In a scene in one episode, the character of Dan asked his partner, Casey, how he was supposed to decide which charities, out of all of those that had sent donation requests in the mail, he should support. Casey's answer was simple - "Give as much as you can, as often as you can, to as many as you can." (I'm paraphrasing here - forgive me, Aaron). That scene made a permanent impression on me, and I am constantly striving to follow Casey’s good advice.
Over the course of the past decade, I have often participated on behalf of and raised funds for different charities. I ran in honor of friends I've lost to AIDS, as a member of the Aids Marathon Training Program, which raised funds for Aids Project Los Angeles. I also ran in honor of friends and family that I've lost to cancer, and raised money for the American Cancer Society. In 2014 and 2015, I decided to run and raise money for SAA, a charity that has played a big part in my life since 2012.
Last year, I placed 1644 out of 15,228 runners that completed the event, and set a new personal best time of 9 minutes and 34 seconds per mile. Over the last two events, the generous support of my family and friends have generated over $2,000 in donations to SAA. This year, I hope to once again set a new personal best time, AND raise at least $1,500 for SAA.
On my behalf, and on the behalf of my friends and everyone else with AS and other forms of spondylitis, I am asking you to contribute, and help make this happen. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
If you are not familiar with my story, or with Ankylosing Spondylitis and the Spondylitis Association of America, read on…
I was diagnosed in early 2012 with Ankylosing Spondylitis - a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints and organs can become involved. Untreated, the disease can cause irreparable damage, and can be quite painful. About 1 in every 200 people have AS, which amounts to over 1.6 million people in the United States alone. Despite the large number of Americans with this disease, it is not well known, and has traditionally not gotten much attention in the medical community. Many rheumatologists are still learning about the disease and how to diagnose and treat it. And there has not been enough research into the causes of the disease, and treatments for it, until recently.
What progress that has been made, in educating doctors and the public, and in funding studies and research related to AS and other diseases in the Spondylitis family, has largely been the result of the work of SAA.
I'm one of the lucky ones - my rheumatologist diagnosed me and started treatment before there was significant damage to my spine, and before any joint fusing had taken place. While this disease has affected my life in numerous ways, I can still run, and do other high impact exercise, which most of my friends with AS cannot.
And all of this is why, this year, as I participate in my 11th Disneyland Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend, I will once again run on behalf of SAA, so that more rheumatologists can be educated, and more people can be diagnosed and treated sooner, and so that research can continue in looking for the cause of this disease, better treatments for it, and maybe, eventually, a way to prevent or cure AS once and for all. I am asking you to support me, and contribute. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.