April Bennett knows what the disease Lupus can do to a person. She's only hoping it doesn't strike her, as it has her mother and aunt.
"It's mostly diagnosed in your teenage years and early 30s," said April, the 17-year-old daughter of Autrey and Roderick Demmons, of Appling. "It can affect your bones, joints, kidneys and lungs."
A summer ago, as April was deciding what she wanted to do for her senior project, she realized it was time for her to learn more about Lupus. She began researching the disease, even teaching her mother a few things.
"During her studying, she taught me a little bit more about Lupus than I know," Mrs. Demmons said. "It is real hectic. The signs I saw in me, growing up, I've seen in her."
Mrs. Demmons, who takes between 27 and 30 pills a day, and her sister, Stephanie Burns-Murray, who is awaiting a kidney transplant, have lived with Lupus for a combined 27 years.
"It has really gotten the best of me," said Mrs. Burns-Murray, who has been on dialysis for two years, making a trip three times a week to have blood drawn from her body, certain substances removed and the blood transferred back to her body. Each session lasts slightly more than three hours, leaving her drained and exhausted for days afterwards.
To alleviate medical expenses related to Mrs. Burns-Murray's impending kidney transplant and the costs of her mother's medications, April, who hopes to major in medical technology after graduation, has organized a gospel concert for 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Greenbrier High School auditorium. There is no admission charge, but donations will be accepted.
April Bennett is a senior at Greenbrier High School, where she is doing a senior project that involves organizing a gospel concert as a fund-raiser for the Lupus Foundation.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I love gospel myself and my mom and aunt do, too," said April, who plays the flute at Greenbrier High School, where she is a senior on the A/B honor roll.
Among those slated to appear at the concert are Junior Spiritual Six and the Righteous Brothers, of Warrenton, and Mike Brown, of Augusta.
Zelda Jones will join April for some on-stage performances too, and April is trying to arrange for several local churches to participate.
"It means a lot to me," Mrs. Burns-Murray said of the fund-raiser. "She doesn't know how important it is to me. She has given me the strength to keep on."
Mrs. Burns-Murray said her 6-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with mild arthritis and often complains of aches and pains.
She said her own disease started out much the same way, and she's fearful her daughter will end up with Lupus.
"It is a terrible, terrible disease. It can be deadly if you don't take care of yourself," she said. "What April is doing is a good thing."
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