A 3-year-old girl who was diagnosed just two weeks ago with lupus will release the butterflies Saturday for the third annual Mayberry’s Butterfly Walk for Lupus.
Brelan Belcher of Pilot Mountain has battled neuroblastoma, a form of kidney cancer, for the past two-and-a half-years, and already has had a kidney removed, explained walk organizer and lupus patient Barbi Manchester.
“This little girl has rocked my world,” Manchester said. “I’ve heard a lot of sad and heart-wrenching stories, but hers breaks my heart.”
The two days of events to raise awareness and funding for the Lupus Foundation of America will begin Friday during half-time of the Mount Airy High School home opener football game against Starmount.
Kick It for Lupus will be a chance for anyone who wants to pay $1 to try their luck at kicking a field goal. In addition to showing off their kicking skills on the Bears football field, each kicker will receive a Kick Lupus football with a butterfly on it.
One of the many signs of lupus, and probably the most visible sign, is the butterfly rash lupus patients can have across their cheeks and the bridge of their nose.
“This is the cheerleaders’ project, so they are helping with it. And some of the dads are holding the footballs for the kickers,” Manchester said of Friday night’s event. “The cheerleaders are helping with the kicking and the walk.”
Becca Hart, Miss High Point Teen USA 2014, who is what Manchester calls a lupus thriver, will be on the football field Friday along with other lupus patients to encourage and welcome those who want to try kicking the field goals.
Last year, nearly $100 was raised during half-time with the Kick It for Lupus event, Manchester said.
On Saturday, the high school’s track and field again will be the site of lupus awareness and fundraising as the third annual Mayberry’s Butterfly Walk for Lupus commences.
Registration for the walk is from 9 to 10 a.m. There is no advanced registration, Manchester said, since most people just sign up with they arrive. The cost to participate is $20, which is donated to the Lupus Foundation of America and includes a walk T-shirt.
A welcoming ceremony is held at 10 a.m., with the walk to start around 10:45 or 11, continuing until 1 p.m.
The ceremony will feature comments from Becca Hart, who was diagnosed with lupus at age 16, and Susan Corbett of Burlington.
Tehesia Wilcox, sister of Boston Celtics player Chris Wilcox, will light the memorial candle at Saturday’s walk. Chris has donated an autographed basketball as a raffle prize, Manchester said.
“She is a lupus thriver as well. I think next year he is going to try to be here, he’s in a wedding Saturday and couldn’t attend,” she said of the Wilcox siblings.
Each year Chris Wilcox holds a golf tournament for lupus, and last year Manchester accepted the tournament check on behalf of the LFA from Wilcox in Myrtle Beach, S.C., since South Carolina has no LFA chapter. This year the tournament is Sept. 9 in Raleigh, and Manchester will be speaking at the tournament.
“Kate Appler will be our mistress of ceremony,” Manchester said. “She’ll be introducing everyone, letting everyone know what’s going on, announcing the raffles.”
Also, the cheerleaders will be dancing during the ceremony.
In addition to the walk, there will be raffles, door prizes, a lupus information table and videos of the past walks playing.
“But the main focus is the lupus and bringing awareness to lupus,” said Manchester. “In Surry County, there is an estimated 1,200 people living with lupus.”
Last year, the walk raised $16,000, and Manchester’s goal is to raise $17,000 this year.
“I want to acknowledge one person who is working on hard on this for her senior project and that’s Alexis Webb of Mount Airy High School,” said Manchester.
Sponsors helping with the walk gave on four levels with the platinum sponsors being First Baptist Church of Mount Airy, Central Methodist Child Care Center and Cooke Rentals. Gold sponsors are Precision Pneu-draulics, Sonic, Carolina OB-GYN and Collins Chevrolet. Silver sponsors are Perkins & Associates, Lab Corp, WSYD/WPAQ, BB&T, Captured Moments Photography and Bert Floyd Insurance.
The bronze/community sponsors include Mama Lolean, Manchester’s 98-year-old great-grandmother who has saved $1 or $2 a week for the past year to have enough to donate $100 as a bronze sponsor. Other bronze sponsors are Brannock & Hiatt Furniture, McDonald’s, Moody Funeral Home, WorkForce Carolina, Poppy’s/Dragonfly Boutique, F. Rees Clothing, Bray’s Recapping, Surry County AAMA (chapter of medical assistants), Emily Clark, Hampton Inn, Surrey Bank & Trust, Horizon Equipment Rentals, Main-Oak Emporium, Ralph Harris Leather and Silver, Rogers Realty, Gary’s Auto Sales, Novant Health of Pilot Mountain, Food Lion, Creative Designs, Surry Chemical and the Carry Potter Group out of Texas, which is Chris Wilcox’s publisher’s company.
“We had almost 160 walkers last year, and this year we’re hoping for 300,” Manchester said.
On Sept. 7, Manchester will lead the first lupus support group in Surry County. The group will meet the first Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Pro Health in Mount Airy.
Reach Wendy Byerly Wood at email@example.com or at 719-1923.