CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Saturday evening, the Lupus Foundation of America put on their regional Walk to End Lupus in San Antonio. It’s in person for the first time since the pandemic began and merged the Gulf Coast and San Antonio regions of the foundation. One notable Corpus Christi team will be there, but without their most important team member.
Kathryn Flores said the same time she was born was about the same time her mother, Ann Flores, was diagnosed with lupus. Thus, “Ann’s Team” has become a staple of the Walk to End Lupus.
This year’s walk is different. Ann passed away from lupus on March 8.
"Of course you’re never ready to loose a loved one, but I am grateful because I got to spend 25 years of my life with her," said Kathryn. "And then an additional four years was without being on dialysis. So yeah, she was definitely a fighter.”
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can harm any part of your body. Each person experiences it differently and it’s hard to diagnose.
Year after year, Ann and her family planned for the Walk to End Lupus and what it stood for. To them, that meant educating people about this disease and raising money for lupus research.
“She wasn’t able to do a lot of the stuff that she enjoyed," said Kathryn. "And this was one thing that was like, no this is me, all about me, lets embrace it. I have this horrible disease, but it’s not the end of the world. You can still fight, you can still enjoy life.”
Kathryn remembers she was 6 years old when her lupus started to attack her mother's kidneys. It forced her to go onto dialysis for 14 years. Family tried to step up to donate a kidney, but none were a match. Kathryn said it took a six person swap for Ann to get the kidney she needed. That was four years ago.
This year, Ann’s Team raised one of their highest totals ever with almost $2,000. The team was expecting around 40 people to represent Ann at the walk. And so, this year’s walk is just as important to them. Although Ann is no longer here, Ann’s Team will continue to fight for her.
“No matter what she was going through, how sick she was, how tired she was, she would always go and give that person a ride," Kathryn said. "She would always take food to that person and invite that person over. She was just such a kind, sweet person.”
Ann's Team is still accepting donations for Lupus research. If you'd like to help out, you can do so, here.