Walk Your A.S. Off announces the largest endeavor to date – a continuation of their steps into the unknown and a place no one has ventured. Thousands of people with the chronic disease Ankylosing Spondylitis and the family of related diseases will take their mission to what some might say is an unobtainable goal – the planet Mars!
In year one, founder Jennifer Visscher, thought a million steps was a lofty goal but she quickly saw an outpouring of support from fellow ASers and their friends and family, and realized that her vision needed to be larger. The community rallied around her idea and successfully attempted a trip around the globe gaining followers & participants from places as far away as Australia, The Philippines, Great Britain, New Zealand, The Isle of Mann, and all over the United States.
In year two, the goal of “shooting for the moon” seemed apt as an encore but for such a small community based and non-funded effort, the dream was met with naysayers and critics. The skepticism was somewhat understandable given that the 2013 goal was 10 times the size of the goal of the year before – 478 million collective steps! The team captains and their walkers were not dissuaded, they were out to show the world that a small group of people can come together and do amazing things. By repeating the mantra, “every step counts” the teams gained more participants because the saying rings true – all levels of participation are encouraged. A pedometer can be worn and the walker can go on about their day and participate to the level of their ability which was a huge help in a community of people dealing with a disease that can cause difficulty in walking, something many take for granted. What the team at Walk Your A.S. Off saw was that people were able to see for themselves how the increase in steps over the course of two months (the length of the walk) was helping many feel not only stronger physically but it was giving them an avenue to share about the disease and get their friends and family involved and that in turn helped make many stronger emotionally.
The decision to name Mars as the next goal didn’t come lightly. Getting to Mars could take years. Walk Your A.S. Off is hoping they can make it there in 10 years – the average amount of time it currently takes a person with a form of Spondylitis to receive a diagnosis. They want to show the world that they are a group of people who can dream big dreams.
We dream of better public understanding and awareness of Spondylitis in all its forms.
We dream of better care and earlier diagnosis.
We dream of a cure!
Walk Your A.S. Off believes that good things happen when you dream big & that if our dreams don’t scare you, aren’t big enough! For their dreams to come true, more light and attention needs to brought to this family of diseases.
Walk Your A.S. Off and our teams & individual walkers would like people to know:
- AS is more prevalent than multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease combined yet few have heard of it.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is arthritis of the spine that strikes young people. The typical age of onset is between 17 and 35.
- AS can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, it is the most overlooked cause of persistent back pain in young adults.
- AS can also damage other joints such as the hips and shoulders, as well as other areas of the body including the eyes, heart and lungs.
- AS causes pain and spinal stiffness, and, in severe cases, the spine fuses solidly in a forward-stooped posture.
You can help support people with Ankylosing Spondylitis reach their goals and find a cure by participating in Walk Your A.S. Off – remember, every step counts!
For more about Walk Your A.S. Off
How Our Walk Works.
More on Why We Walk
The Million Step Challenge