Elora youth raising funds for autoimmune disease research

ELORA 50ȻƵ Nate Sutherland is attempting to do something many of us would think is impossible 50ȻƵ run from Elora to Toronto in a single day.

It50ȻƵs not just for kicks, and it50ȻƵs not part of his training either.

Sutherland is a speed skater with dreams of one day competing at the Olympics, so training is everything.

He recently completed his first year at the University of Calgary, where he50ȻƵs combining kinesiology studies with speed skating training.

But this run is different.

The 19-year-old is running to raise money for Mount Sinai Hospital50ȻƵs research into autoimmune disease.

50ȻƵA lot of people in my life have these types of diseases,50ȻƵ Sutherland said in a phone interview.

50ȻƵIt50ȻƵs a disease that50ȻƵs underfunded and under-researched but about two million people have it.50ȻƵ

Autoimmune disease is when the immune system attacks the body. Your immune system can50ȻƵt tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells and attacks them all.

Autoimmune diseases include lupus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease, among many others.

Symptoms could include fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain, digestive issues and fever.

Some of these diseases can be treated with drugs, others with ointments and creams, and others still with more invasive treatments like insulin shots or intravenous immune globulin 50ȻƵ a blood product made up of antibodies that may help correct the immune system.

But scientists aren50ȻƵt really sure why for some people, the body turns on itself this way.

And to the onlooker, it50ȻƵs not obvious when someone has an autoimmune disease.

50ȻƵThis run is to raise awareness as well as funds for research,50ȻƵ Sutherland said. 50ȻƵAutoimmune disease really is an invisible disease. But just because you can50ȻƵt see it doesn50ȻƵt mean someone is not sick.

50ȻƵWe all have to be compassionate with others. Take a second and think,50ȻƵ he added.

50ȻƵThat50ȻƵs why it50ȻƵs important to build awareness.50ȻƵ

Louis de Melo, CEO of Sinai Health Foundation, could not agree more.

50ȻƵCommunity fundraising initiatives like Nate50ȻƵs play a crucial role in raising both funds and awareness for research,50ȻƵ de Melo stated in an email.

50ȻƵSinai Health50ȻƵs Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute is one of the top biomedical research institutes in the world and is tackling some of the biggest health challenges we face, including autoimmune diseases.

50ȻƵWhen a dynamic fundraiser like Nate steps up, they inspire the broader community to step up.50ȻƵ

Sutherland will make the 100km-plus trek on May 19.

He50ȻƵs starting at 5am at Wellington Road 7 and 8th Line and expects it will take 12 to 14 hours to work his way to the hospital in downtown Toronto.

50ȻƵIt50ȻƵs going to be a tough one for sure. 100km is a long distance to run. But it50ȻƵs hard having an autoimmune disease as well,50ȻƵ he said.

50ȻƵI want people with the disease to feel supported too. This doesn50ȻƵt get talked about much, and it should.50ȻƵ

Sutherland has started a GoFundMe page and already has raised close to $1,800. He50ȻƵll also be posting his progress on Instagram at @100kmautoimmune.

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