I first met Lina Lodico online back in 2008, several years after she and her daughters -- and my own son -- were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She had organized an annual walk on Long Island to benefit the Celiac Sprue Association and their efforts to raise funds for Celiac research, and she is a stalwart advocate for Celiac awareness.
I was fortunate to finally meet Lina in person at the Celiac Sprue Association's Annual Conference, which just wrapped up -- and coincidentally took place on Long Island this year. It was like meeting an old friend, as it often is when personally connecting with people in the Celiac community. We all have so many similar stories to share -- often involving years (or months that feel like years) of struggles with health issues and delayed diagnosis. We've all been fortunate, however, to finally receive a proper diagnosis for ourselves or our family members: Celiac Disease.
Many, however, still aren't as fortunate. There are still MILLIONS of people with Celiac Disease that remain undiagnosed. In fact, estimates of undiagnosed Celiac Disease range from 83%-95% of the 1% of the population that has it. (If you've been properly diagnosed, consider yourself one of the fortunate ones.) There are many, many very sick people living their lives with unexplained health symptoms ranging anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, skin rashes, migraines, depression, or many of the classic gastrointestinal issues. And, of course, there are dozens of other symptoms associated with undiagnosed Celiac Disease.
Although we are making steady progress, we still have a major awareness problem in our country. And that's where Lina likes to focus her efforts. In addition to organizing her annual walk, The L. Lodico Walk for Celiac Disease, she has designed green ribbon car magnets to build awareness. They are only $4.00, plus a small shipping charge and available under the Awareness tab on her website. (She also has various pins available, too.) Lina gives 20% of the proceeds (basically her total "profit") to the Celiac Sprue Association for Celiac research. So why not put one on your car and take the opportunity to educate curious people who take notice of the bright green ribbon? You just may end up talking to one of the many undiagnosed Celiacs silently suffering and not getting the right answers after months or years going from doctor to doctor.
We all do have the capacity to make a HUGE difference in this effort...PLEASE forward this post to everyone you know in the Celiac community...post it on Facebook...Tweet it on Twitter. And if you live in the New York area, consider participating in Lina's next walk. It's a great way to support awareness and research, get exercise, and meet new friends in the Celiac community!