Annual Walk/Run has raised more than $3 million for research since 2001
Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2011. More than 700 people will take to the streets of downtown Baltimore on Sunday, May 22 to raise awareness about celiac disease and raise money for research. “Making Tracks for Celiacs” is an annual 5K run/walk and 10K run organized by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Celiac Research. Both races will start at 9 a.m. at the Clarence “Du” Burns Arena at 1301 South Ellwood Avenue.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Making Tracks for Celiac, which has grown into a major national event with thousands of participants. The Center for Celiac Research supports walks in New York, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan. Since 2001, walkers and their sponsors have raised more than $3 million dollars to support research and awareness programs.
“Without the donations and phenomenal support of thousands of people from our annual walk/run, the Center for Celiac Research wouldn’t be able to operate,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., founder and director of the center and professor of pediatrics, medicine and physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Thanks to our walkers and their sponsors, we are able to pursue research that is changing the landscape of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity,” says Dr. Fasano, who director of the Mucosal Biology Research Center at the School of Medicine.
In people with celiac disease, gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction in the small intestine. The complex proteins found in wheat, rye and barley trigger the immune system of a person with celiac disease to attack the person’s small intestine. Left undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility and neurological conditions and, in rare cases, cancer.
“We fully support Dr. Fasano and his team as they promote the awareness of celiac disease to provide better care, a better quality of life, and better support for the celiac disease community worldwide,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Making Tracks for Celiac began in 2001 with a walk in Baltimore and a walk in Minnesota chaired by former National Football League star Rich Gannon, whose daughter was diagnosed with the disease. “We had about 100 people in 2001, says Pam King, director of operations at the Center for Celiac Research. “Most people didn’t even know what celiac disease was, let alone participate in the run.” Since then, awareness has increased dramatically. May is now recognized as Celiac Awareness Month.
Participants for the 10th anniversary event can pre-register and build their own Web page at www.celiacwalk.org. Individuals wishing to donate to participants or the center can also visit www.celiacwalk.org. Approximately 15,000 T-shirts with names of national and local sponsors will be distributed to athletes and volunteers. National and local sponsors include 123 Gluten Free, Bloomfield Farms, EnduraFit, Enjoy Life, Froose, General Mills, Glutino, GoPicnic, Ian’s, Jules Gluten Free, Kinnikinnick Foods, Pamela’s Products, Rudi’s, Schar and Udi’s. Local sponsors include 105.7 The Fan, the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, Abbott Nutrition, Eli’s, and the Clarence “Du” Burns Arena.
Cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be awarded to the top three men and women in the open division. The award ceremony will take place after the race in the Clarence “Du” Burns Arena, along with gluten-free refreshments, 50 vendors with booths of delicious gluten-free samples, special children’s activities, a silent auction and a raffle.
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