Westport runs for the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance

Emily Wolfe, Staff Writer

On April 6, 2014 the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) held a run/walk at Sherwood Island State Park. One hundred ninety-five people attended, of that 128 ran and 67 walked. Overall, they were able to raise over $20,000 which will go towards research for tick-borne disease prevention and cures.

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is a national organization dedicated to raising awareness and supporting research to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease.

Orna Grand, the head organizer for the annual Westport TBDA run/walk, originally joined this organization six years ago, after experiencing the struggle of a tick-borne illness firsthand. She was bitten by a tick in 2002 and was not diagnosed until six months later. According to Grand, the main obstacle in the prevention of tick-borne diseases is the lack of early and accurate diagnoses.

“Having experienced running from doctor to doctor and not getting diagnosed, I wanted to help others find an easier path,” Grand said. “Prevention, early diagnosis and physician education are the keys to hopefully eradicating this disease.”

Many Staples students have gotten involved with this organization as well by volunteering their time to support this quest for new pathways of prevention.

George Ingber ’14, a member of the Staples Service League of Boys (SLOBS), said that he has volunteered at this event for the past couple of years, and it has continuously impacted his view of these diseases.

“There were a ton of people who shared personal anecdotes about their experiences with tick-borne diseases,” Ingber ’14 said. “It really made me realize how prevalent the issue is—something I wasn’t aware of beforehand.”

The TBDA plans to continue raising awareness and working towards ultimately finding a reliable diagnostic process.

“Left misdiagnosed or untreated, tick-borne diseases can cause debilitating effects where some people are physically incapacitated,” Grand said. “It is crucial that we find a more accurate diagnostic tool.”