WHEELING - For some families, the Ogden Newpapers Half Marathon Classic is an opportunity to make valuable memories.
By organizing a fundraiser and participating in the race, Jennifer Moss wanted to honor the strength and stamina of her mother, Ruth Simmons - one of 1.5 million Americans impacted by lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease.
Moss and her husband, Steve, walked the half marathon while Simmons watched with husband Keith and grandson Keegan.
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky
Jennifer and Steve Moss walked Saturday’s Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Saturday to honor Jennifer’s mother, Ruth Simmons, who is afflicted by lupus. Seated, from left, are Jennifer Moss, her son Keegan Moss and Simmons. Standing, from left, are Steve Moss and Keith Simmons.
Simmons had headaches, double vision and even memory loss when she first showed symptoms of lupus 20 years ago. Having lost some memories from when her children were younger, she truly values the chance to make new family memories.
Proceeds earned through Moss' fundraiser, "Rejoicing Ruth"- as of the morning of the race, $2,500 - will go to the Alliance for Lupus Research. Moss surprised her mother Saturday morning by having Keegan present her with both a framed letter explaining the fundraiser and special lupus survivor T-shirt.
"That is phenomenal. ... It means everything to me," Simmons said of her family's and friends' donations to support lupus research, describing the disease as one that has been on the back burner for too long.
"There's only been one medication developed in the last 50 years that's specific for lupus."
At one point during Simmons' declining health, doctors told her she had a 10-percent chance of seeing another birthday and a 5-percent chance to live five more years.
Today, Simmons, a Washington, Pa., resident who lived in McMechen years ago, has defied the odds and is doing very well. While she will never be lupus-free, she has gone longer periods of time without flare-ups and continues to manage life with the disease. Her husband believes she also will benefit from decreased stress when she soon retires.
org/goto/rejoicingruth to learn more about Ruth Simmons' story.