New foundation to help Lupus/MS patients

Posted By | April 29, 2013 12:00 am

Rachel Billingsley (standing) founded The Stewart Foundation in honor of her mother, Phylene Stewart (seated). Stewart suffers from multiple sclerosis. The Stewart Foundation will work to help patients get the medications and equipment necessary to treat and cope with MS and lupus.

Dealing with the complications related to lupus and multiple sclerosis can be difficult. Both diseases are autoimmune diseases that damage various parts of the body.
While lupus and MS have their own unique set of symptoms, both diseases have something in common — the high cost of prescriptions needed to treat the disease.
That’s where The Stewart Foundation steps in.
The newly-formed foundation was created to help lupus and MS patients struggling with the high cost of prescription medications used to treat the diseases.
“My mother … was the inspiration behind starting this foundation,” Rachel Billingsley, founder, told the Expositor. “Due to circumstances, about a year ago, she was within a few weeks of losing her medication. Luckily, her doctor intervened and was able to get it for her. Not everyone is that lucky.”
Just one of Stewart’s medications cost $40,000 annually.
“That’s the one she almost lost,” Billingsley noted.
That’s where the Stewart Foundation is hoping to step in and make a difference.
The goal of the Stewart Foundation is to help patients that are struggling to pay for their medications, mobility devices such as wheelchairs, along with other items that patients may not be able to afford.
“Obviously, we can’t pay for that in full,” Billingsley said.
The foundation, currently working to secure a 501C(3) status, will host fundraisers — like the 5K scheduled to take place next month — as well as connect patients with other organizations geared toward helping patients with necessary items like medications and equipment that their insurance doesn’t cover.
“No one should ever have to sell their house or vehicle to pay for medication.” Billingsley said.
As Billingsley continued to work on starting the foundation, she realized that there were many, like her mother, struggling with either lupus or MS — and the burdening costs of treatment.
“There’s a lot more people that have it (either MS or lupus) than most people realize,” Billingsley said.
She says that fundraisers, like the 5K run, will help kick-start the foundation’s ability to help those in need.
The 5K run set for May 18 and will begin and end at White County High School.
The one-mile fun run will begin at 8 a.m. and the 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Preregistration continues through May 4 and is $25 to participate in the 5K and $12 for the one-mile fun run. The registration fee includes a free t-shirt.
For those unable to participate in 5K the group will also be selling t-shirts for $15.
Medals will be given to all children who participate in the fun run and winners of the 5K will receive a plaque.
To learn more about the Stewart Foundation or to register for the 5K slated for May 18, call Billingsley at (931) 273-2111.
More information about the 5K can be found on group’s Facebook event page: The Stewart Foundation for MS and Lupus.

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