SANDAKAN: More than 100 people are expected to walk along the tracks of the sports complex stadium here holding umbrellas in their hands in effort to create awareness on the plight of lupus sufferers and their need for constant protection from sunlight.
Among those who will be walking in the event, which begins at 6.30 am on September 8, will be the staff of OCBC Al-Amin Bank Berhad (OCBC Al-Amin), members of Persatuan SLE Malaysia (PSLEM) Sabah Chapter, SLE patients and their families, medical personnel of the Duchess of Kent Hospital and myriad others from all walks of life.
The inaugural Walk-a-Payung Lupus Family Day is organised by PSLEM and sponsored by OCBC Al-Amin, which opened its first branch in Sandakan in 2015.
The event aims to attract at least 120 participants, who will walk a total of three kilometres, starting from the Sandakan Sports Complex Stadium. It will end at the Asrama where all participants can attend a talk on SLE by the president of PSLEM Sabah Chapter, Dr Eleen Chong, who is a rheumatologist practising in Kota Kinabalu.
Proceeds from the event will go toward funding of subsidiary treatment for lupus sufferers at the Duchess of Kent Hospital. OCBC Al-Amin is kicking off the donation drive by contributing RM20,000.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus, for short) is an unpredictable chronic autoimmune disease that gives rise to unusual levels of antibodies circulating in a patient’s blood, targeting his or her own body tissues. It affects different parts of the body including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, joints and skin.
The Walk-a-Payung Lupus Family Day is designed to help foster family bonding and healthy living among lupus sufferers. Those wishing to participate may do so by contacting Jean Chan (012-8133338), Suzanna (012-8189329), Monita (016-8183619) or Ms Sim (019-8838893).
Registration forms are available at the OCBC Al-Amin Sandakan branch at Lot 1, Block 16, Bandar Indah, Batu 4, Jalan Utara. Participation fee is RM50, and will include a T-shirt, an umbrella and a goodie bag.
According to Dr Eleen Chong, the objectives of the event include fostering strong family relationships among parents, children, patients and care-givers, hence promoting healthy living and ultimately creating greater awareness about lupus.
“We will walk with our umbrellas open wide in line with our theme to show that lupus patients need to be protected from the sunlight. The event will see participants come together in one spirit in the name of solidarity with lupus sufferers. We will also have some fun activities thrown in including a warm-up exercise led by the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Department of Duchess of Kent Hospital,” she said.
Title sponsor, OCBC Al-Amin Sandakan branch senior manager, Vivien Lu, said that OCBC has developed a close relationship with the Sandakan community since opening there three years ago.
“In recent times, we have been looking to become even more entrenched in the community, and our involvement in the upcoming Walk-a-Payung Lupus Family Day is a clear example of how we collaborate and engage with communities throughout the country. You can expect to see all our Sandakan branch staff there at the event on September 8.
“We are hoping to become even more intrinsically involved with the Sandakan community. This partnership is one way for us to commit tangibly to going beyond simply providing superior banking products and services. We would also like to meet the social needs of the community,” she said.
Persatuan SLE Malaysia, a non-profit, charitable organisation formed in 1994, provides social and psychological support for people suffering from life threatening lupus. Its work is funded by corporate donors and individual well-wishers and is recognised by the government as a charity body. Donations to the association are tax-exempted.