Today, Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) announced she introduced legislation to increase awareness and education about autoimmune diseases.
An autoimmune condition results from a person's immune system causing his or her body to mistakenly attack its healthy cells. There are more than 100 autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and celiac disease. Researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) have concluded that as many as 32 million Americans have the autoimmune antibodies. Autoimmune diseases effect people of all ages, races, and gender, but are found to be more prevalent in women.
"Everyone knows someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease. An estimated 50,000 people in New York's Congressional District have an autoimmune disease; enough to fill the Carrier Dome," said Buerkle.
"My late sister, Mary Colella, started experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis at the age of twelve. Her dreams were cut short by the disease, but she lived her remaining years, twenty of which were spent as a quadriplegic, with grace and dignity. Her life inspires me to help keep a national focus on autoimmune diseases, which is why I have introduced this legislation to increase awareness and education about autoimmune diseases."
H.R. 6218, The Mary Colella Autoimmune Disease Awareness Act of 2012, will require an assessment of national progress on autoimmune disease research, an update of the national strategic plan, and recommendations that can be used to develop a national curriculum on autoimmune diseases.
Buerkle made the announcement at Yum Yum's Bakery in Syracuse. The gluten free bakery was founded by Erin Gridley after her son was diagnosed with Celiac, an autoimmune disease that causes gluten sensitivity. Nearly 40 people attended the announcement. In addition to Representative Buerkle, speakers included:
Erin Gridley, Yum Yum's Bakery, Owner
Bill Jackson, MS Resources of CNY, President
Mary Ann Kerkhoven, Lupus Advocate