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The Purple Promise Supporting Lupus

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My name is Karen Jenkins and in 2013 as I was approaching my 40th birthday, I was trying to decide whether or not to have a big fabulous shin-ding. Some of my former classmates were all talking about what they were doing and I was very excited for them and looking forward to attending all of their events. However when I thought about my 40th birthday and all that I had been through, I just wasn't that excited for myself as I was for everyone else. All of my life I've been a giver and love to be a blessing to other people.  And what better time to do it, than in the month of December, when everyone is already in the gift giving spirit.

Now the idea of me turning 40 was like WHOA! So I decided that I needed to do something that would really bless others on a bigger level. Well I suffer with Lupus Disease. I was originally diagnosed in 1997 and I didn't understand what was happening to me. I just knew that my life was changing and I felt like crap in my body and that it was hard to walk and get around. I had to start taking all of these medications that I knew nothing about and got really sad. My husband was always traveling, my family lived in another state and I had a small child and felt so alone.

Sure I could rely on my church family being there, but my husband, mom, dad, siblings and those that I needed the most weren't there. So you know what I did? I took the meds for a while and then started to feel better and felt that I was in the clear. That was a big mistake. For years I was doing really well so I thought to myself I got this Lupus thing beat. YEAH RIGHT! WRONG!!

Now thinking back, the lord had placed a beautiful woman of GOD in my life who just so happened to be my rental agent in the apartment complex where I lived and she too had Lupus. I use to watch her struggles and help her out as much as I could, but it never dawned on me that I would be diagnosed with the same illness.

I couldn’t see it back then, but certainly now I understand that the Lord had placed her in my life for a reason. Eventually she moved out of state and we still keep in touch to this very day. So in 2006 after I suffered my massive stroke, she was one of the first people that I called. See Lupus strikes every person differently. No two people have lupus the same. Although they go through similar challenges and can relate to one another, IT’S NOT THE SAME!

Since everyone’s treatment is different for Lupus, when my doctor mentioned to me in her office about trying a new drug to help better manage the disease, I thought about asking Hannah which is the beautiful woman I was referring to, had she tried that particular treatment. So as I thought about her that’s when the thought of the PURPLE PROMISE was formed. I now knew what I wanted to do for my 40th birthday. Instead of holding my usual birthday contests or throwing a big party, I would host a banquet called the PURPLE PROMISE LUPUS BUTTERFLY AWARDS.

I chose that name because purple is the color that represents Lupus and a butterfly is its symbol.
Butterflies represent TRANSFORMATION and lupus is a disease that causes patients to experience many transformations. As long as I can remember even back to my childhood days, I’ve always had a great love for butterflies. I studied them and after finally educating myself on Lupus I understood how the disease could go through different stages, just like a butterfly.

The thought of doing something for someone else that I know who also suffers from this illness, got my wheels turning. My heart was filled with a burst of excitement and I was overwhelmed with joy. Then it occurred to me that this couldn’t just be a one-time event. I prayed and talked to GOD and told him how thankful I was for him keeping me through every storm I’ve endured concerning my health.

I made a vow to him that from now on, every birthday he allows me to have, that instead of celebrating my life, I would help bring value to the lives of other individuals that suffers with lupus disease. I told my husband the vision that I had to make a difference in the world and he immediately rolled up his sleeves and dived right in to help.

I then contacted Hannah and told her about the banquet and asked her to be my keynote speaker for that evening. But I did not mention that she was my first recipient. That part was a big surprise. She was just thrilled to be a part of a great cause. So we gathered some of personal savings and booked her a flight and secured her lodging accommodations. Next we teamed up with a national t-shirt company called CUSTOM INK through their booster program and started a t-shirt campaign that ran for 30 days.

Although we didn’t sell all of the t-shirts that we desired to sell, our campaign was still a great success. Once we got the ball rolling there was no turning back. The PURPLE PROMISE to support Lupus sufferers and their caregivers was now in full effect. Our cause is far beyond the banquet. We decided that lupus patients need help all through the year with medication cost, transportation, groceries, utility bills, mortgages, car loans, gas money, co-pays and etc.

So we would like to not only be a blessing at our annual banquet, but we also would love to help with monthly their expenditures. A patient that can’t drive anymore may simply need a ride to a physician’s appointment, and we would like to team them up with a Good Samaritan in their area that will be willing to offer them a ride and helping hand for the day.

We also desire to bridge the gap of communication between lupus patients and their family members, friends, and neighbors, by first bringing awareness about the disease and the daily effects that it causes to its sufferers. Being sick is not fun at all, and no one can assist a person with an illness if they aren’t educated about what the disease entail.

We hope to help uplift, motivate, inspire, encourage and rebuild families that have been greatly affected by lupus disease one day at a time.

Please support our cause to  help support men, woman and children that suffer with Lupus. If you are unable to financially support, your prayers are always welcomed and greatly appreciated. There are also other ways for you to get involved. If you would like to become a volunteer or find out more about us, please visit our website at


Karen Jenkins
Williamsburg, VA

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