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Crystal Lake going purple for Lupus awareness

CRYSTAL LAKE – Efforts once again are underway to turn downtown Crystal Lake purple to raise both awareness and funding for the Lupus Foundation of America as part of Lupus Awareness Month in May.

Bonnie Kassel of Crystal Lake, with the help of friend Regina Villalobos of Huntley, who suffers from the disease, once again is organizing a Lupus Awareness Day. Kassel first began the campaign three years ago in hopes to educate the community and provide support for those suffering from the chronic, autoimmune disease her now 17-year-old daughter Taylor was diagnosed with in 2011.

This year’s event is planned for May 9, and Kassel is asking businesses in Crystal Lake to donate 10 percent of their proceeds that day to the cause, as in years past.

Purple ribbons and signs will be placed throughout town, and the day will include raffles and other promotions.

Kassel, who works at Benedict’s in downtown Crystal Lake, also is seeking donations of raffle items.

Last year’s fundraiser drew gift baskets, homemade candles and soaps, knitted blankets, gift cards, sports tickets, gardening supplies and more. Those interested in helping can contact Kassel at 815-341-6190 or bonniekassel@comcast.net.

“We’re trying to teach prevention, to let these people known they’re loved, they’re not forgotten about,” Kassel said of the effort. 

The money raised will go to the Lupus Foundation of America. The potentially fatal disease is unpredictable and chronic and can be difficult to diagnose. In most people, the immune system protects the body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

In lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between good and bad, and creates antibodies that target the body’s own tissue.

“It’s known as a silent disease. … I want to make something big of it,” Kassel said of her effort. “These people are suffering. We just love these people so much, and we want them to know they’re not alone. I don’t think anybody in the nation does anything like this.”

Now a junior at Crystal Lake South High School, Taylor Kassel has been able to fight the disease through diet and other natural remedies, Bonnie Kassel said. 

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