It’s Time To Walk!

Photo by Hamed Saber

Photo by Hamed Saber

TODAY IS THE DAY! IT’S TIME TO START STEPPIN’!

It’s that time of year again…it is WALK YOUR AS OFF!

W is for Waiting. It’s so hard to wait for the event to begin on April 1, 2016.
A is for Awareness. That’s why we count our steps and promote this annual event—to create awareness.
L is for Line-Up. Your line-up, your team, your motley crew—the people that are on your side.
K is for Kicking ASbecause that what we do—WE KICK AS.

Y is for Yes. Yes, you can take one more step (and then you can take one more.)
O is for Online. We report our steps via our online site at Walk Your AS Off. This is where you log in to report your steps AFTER you have registered with your team.
U is for Understanding. We all understand what it is like to have this disease.
R is for Registering. Register your team through the website portal by visiting our 2016 team page and clicking on the team you want to join. You’ll see a button on the team page that says Join This Team. Click on it, and you’re on your way to joining us on our trip to Mars.

A is for Awesome. Do you know how awesome you are for walking for a friend or a loved one?
S is for Steps. It’s not about how many or how few, it’s about you taking steps for our cause.

O is for Organizers. Thank you dear organizers…we wouldn’t be stepping without you.
F is for Fearless. Every day that you get up and move, you show others that you are fearless fighter.
F is for Fun. Remember…WALK YOUR A.S. OFF is about having some fun!


 

Okay, so this little acrostic poem may not win a poetry competition any time soon, but it does bring forward a few key ideas about why we all have “stepped” up to participate in another year of WYASO.

WalkASOne
WalkASOne

WYASO is our virtual walk-a-thon that has us collecting our actual steps and raising awareness for Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Waiting is a part of this disease…yes, we are waiting for the event to begin, but those of us that have this disease are always waiting for the progression. We are waiting for the next phase of this disease. We are waiting to feel better and we are waiting for the acceptance that a life with A.S. is the new paradigm.

Awareness is a key to this event and to the captains of our teams. We walk together because we are afflicted by this disease and just the fact that we are inspired enough to sign up, join, recruit a team and disseminate information helps to grow the awareness of this illness.

Lining up a team of steppers to help us get to the moon, Mars or any goal we set is pretty incredible, especially that we all know what it is like to fight this hidden disease. For many of us, building a team is asking for help and asking for help is an important skill. It’s not a weakness; it is strength in knowing when it is time to call a friend, to delegate a responsibility or simply to have a need met. One of the most important lessons that we can learn in this life is that just showing up, just lining up is sometimes all we need to do.

Team Cheer – The WYASO Cheer Squad is one of our cheerleading teams. Sometimes we kick AS and other times AS kicks us. Having a team buoys us and helps us to do the kicking! We count our steps and we sometimes wonder if we can take one more step. The truth is only you know what you can do; only you know your limitations. You know that when you say YES I CAN…you can.MissionAwareness_TheCheeringSectionSm

Yes you are walking, counting your steps because you have A.S or someone you know has it. You are showing your support and acting in community and hopefully having a bit of fun as you raise awareness about this often misunderstood and misdiagnosed disease.

Understanding of this disease takes so much effort and having a far flung group of us, tied together by this string of A.S. does, indeed, help in understanding this disease and how we proceed through the maze of diagnosis and treatment.

Having family and friends on our side, even attempting to understand our process heals us.

For two months we wear blue, which is the color of awareness for Ankylosing Spondylitis. We strap on our pedometers, fire up our FitBits and wear our awareness on our sleeves, on our wrists or on a lapel. We teach people how to pronounce An-ky-los-ing Spon-dy-li-tis.

You explain what it is like to have an autoimmune disease that steals from you your agility, your deftness, your health and sometimes your spirit.

For 8 weeks you motivate your team with upbeat words, with pats on the back, with appreciation and with true pride that your team has your back!

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Karen Fitch

Karen Swank-Fitch captains Team Fitch Feet in their second year participating in WYASO. Her family is based in Northern California. A former educator, she is now a dedicated stay-at-home-mother and community organizer and volunteer. Raising her 3rd grade son is one of the greatest joys she has ever known. She's been with her husband for 15 remarkable years. Karen was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in mid-2013. Admittedly, it was not the summer she had planned for her family. Through education and support from her medical team and her family, friends and community, plus sheer will, she has become a vocal warrior in her battle against A.S. She is a genuinely upbeat woman and learning this new paradigm has slowed her down. She looks at the lessons she is learning about herself, her body, and how she fits into her world. Presently she's working on a manuscript of poems that deal with the grieving aspect of facing a life altering disease. When she's not enveloped in her role and wife/mother/warrior, she can be found volunteering her time.

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