Stronger Together: Leading the Fight Against Thalassemia One Care Walk at a Time
February 24, 2017- Erin Dean has served for five years as the Care Walk captain for The A Team. CAF thanks Erin for enriching the thalassemia community and raising awareness over the years, as well as for sharing her story. To join Care Walk 2018, visit www.bit.ly/carewalk2018.
Erin became involved with Care Walk in 2012 because her husband, Anthony, who has beta thalassemia major, recently began to endure a period of health challenges. Instead of allowing herself to feel powerless, she became active. Erin came across CAF’s newsletter, Lifeline, and was introduced to the Care Walk. Erin knew that Care Walking was the answer for her and her family. Even though they felt helpless in the face of the difficulties Anthony had been experiencing, the Care Walk was the one option they had complete control of. The Care Walk was something Erin could do in support of her beloved husband.
When Erin began to organize her first Care Walk, the turnout was way bigger then she would have ever expected, “At first, I figured I would walk alone, and that I would raise a few hundred dollars for CAF. I was completely not expecting what happened in the weeks leading up to our walk. People supported us. Our friends, family, friends-of-friends, and even strangers, donated to our cause, and friends joined our team to walk with us. The A Team walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC that first year with a large group of our friends, and a second contingent of The A Team held a walk in Atlanta. We raised over $13,000! It was an amazing experience to do something positive and to actively fight thalassemia. We felt empowered. And because so many people joined us, we learned that together we can do so much more than we ever could have done alone.”
When Erin was asked, why she Care Walks, her response was, “We walk because we simply can’t NOT walk. The Care Walk is an opportunity to make a difference. It doesn’t matter how big or small, where, or when, or how…The Care Walk is an easy way to do something positive to fight Thalassemia. We believe that by taking positive action, we can help to change the course of this disease, and help play a part in ensuring that there is a cure someday. This is a lesson we want to teach our children, and so Anthony and I lead by example. Our kids are growing up Care Walking in support of their daddy, and we hope that it will also make them feel empowered.”
Anthony is a constant reminder to Erin that you should never take life for granted and should always live life to the fullest. Erin is inspired and amazed by Anthony’s strength. “Anthony has taught me many things, one of them being that life is precious. Live it fully and with purpose. If, like me, you love someone with Thalassemia – Support, in any small way, in words and in action. Ask yourself …what can I do to contribute toward the cure that we all want so desperately? And then, do whatever you can to make a difference.”
For the past few years, Erin and her family have hosted their Care Walk at Montville Community Park in Montville, NJ. This year will be Erin’s sixth year Care Walking. Each year, Erin’s Care Walks have grown more and more support. After every walk around the park, Erin’s family has a barbeque, a bake sale, face painting, and a small craft sale featuring handmade artisan soaps and bath products which Erin makes herself under the name WishCraft. All of the proceeds are donated to Cooley’s Anemia Foundation. Erin states, “Our Care Walks have always been a day of food, fun, family, friends, and enjoying being together with our loved ones. It’s also about action: standing up and fighting for a cure; showing everyone with this disease that we support them. Anyone is welcome to join us in this fight, mountains can be moved when we come together for a cause.”