Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Autoimmune Walk?
The Autoimmune Walk is the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association’s (AARDA) signature awareness & fundraising campaign designed to provide hope for the individuals and families forced to face the challenges caused by autoimmune diseases. We’re linking together for a day of sharing, caring and fun! We are linking together for a cure!
What is AARDA?
AARDA is the only national charity bringing a national focus to autoimmunity, the major cause of serious chronic diseases. Approximately 50 million Americans (20 percent of the population or 1 in 5 people) suffer from autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say that 75 percent of those affected — some 30 million individuals — are women. Still, with these statistics, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as a women’s health issue; and basic autoimmune research is significantly underfunded. AARDA has launched the Autoimmune Walk to change all this.
What is Autoimmunity?
One of the functions of the immune system is to protect the body by responding to invading microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, by producing antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes (types of white blood cells). Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of related diseases in which the person’s immune system attacks his or her own tissue. Some of the more than 100 autoimmune diseases are lupus, type 1 diabetes, scleroderma, celiac, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), Sjogren’s, uveitis, PANDAS, polymyositis, urticaria, and Raynauds. Conditions like fibromyalgia often accompany autoimmune diseases.
How is the money used?
Funds raised through the Autoimmune Walks will be used by AARDA to support critical research aimed at solving the underlying immune issues that link all autoimmune disorders. Our mission is to eradicate these serious and life-threatening diseases while providing help and hope through patient services and awareness.
How do I register?
Online registration is fast and easy! Click here and you will be guided through the registration process. Once your registration is complete, you will receive a confirmation email receipt.
How much does it cost to participate?
The registration fee for all Autoimmune Walks is $25. But we ask every registered walker to ask 10 friends for $25 each to raise at least $250 each. If $250 sounds difficult to achieve, please contact your Walk Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (855) 239-2557 for some fundraising tips.
What happens after I register for the Walk?
Immediately following your registration for the Autoimmune Walk, the system will generate a Personal Fundraising Page for you. This page can be customized to tell your story and connection to autoimmune disease. Please see the Personal Page tutorial for detailed information or contact us at email@example.com or 1-855-ADWALKS (1-855-239-2557).
What is an Autoimmune Walk Team?
A team consists of at least 5 people. Teammates can be family, friends or co-workers. Led by a team captain, teams are encouraged to raise funds together and create a sense of camaraderie through their efforts. There is no limit to the number of team members you can have and the greater the team, the more awareness and funds raised for Autoimmune Disease research. On Walk day, team members can choose to each walk one loop, in honor of each individual’s connection to autoimmune disease, or to walk continuous loops together, until the final distance goal is met. Walks range from 1-5 miles in length.
Is it hard being a team captain?
Serving as a Team Captain does require some work, but the Autoimmune Walk office will provide some support for your efforts. You will find it extremely rewarding to recruit, motivate and organize your friends, family and co-workers for a day of hope and fun.
How do I register as a Team?
Simply choose a team name, set a goal and then choose the “Start A Team” option when you register. You will then invite potential teammates to select the “Join a Team” option, after which they will select the team name you set up from a drop down menu. So be sure and tell your potential teammates the team name you chose.
Are pets, bicycles and in-line skates allowed? Bicycles and in-line skates are NOT allowed. Pets are welcome on leashes at most Walk sites, but please check with the Autoimmune Walk office to be sure. Please keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable with pets, many people are allergic, and many animals react differently in large crowds than they do at home.
I’m walking and my family will join me. Should they register for the Autoimmune Walk too? Yes. All walkers, regardless of age, must register to participate in the Autoimmune Walk. This is for your safety and so that each participant qualifies for fundraising incentives. Parents should register their minor children. Children under age 12 participate free; contact your Walk coordinator for the registration code. Those age 12 and older are required to contribute the $25 registration fee. All registered Walkers will receive a Walk T-shirt.
Can I register for the Autoimmune Walk on the day of the event? Yes. While it is encouraged to register online before the Autoimmune Walk, we do offer registration on the day of the event. When you arrive at the Walk site, proceed to the Registration line, where you will be asked to fill out a form and pay the $25 registration fee. Also keep in mind that by registering prior to Walk day, you will have time to maximize your fundraising efforts!
How long is the route?
The Autoimmune Walk "circuit" depends on the location where the walk is held. Sometimes it's on a track and sometimes the Walk meanders through a park. Participants are free to walk as far/long as they choose. This is a non-competitive event and all participants are encouraged to walk at their own pace, at a distance that they are comfortable with and able to complete without causing any physical strain.
What if it rains?
The Autoimmune Walk takes place RAIN OR SHINE. Unless there are extreme weather conditions, the event will take place. If rain is in the forecast, please dress accordingly so that fun will still be had by all!
What if there is not an Autoimmune Walk in my area? Can I still participate?
Absolutely! You can register for the Virtual Walk by clicking the Find A Local Walk & Register link at the top of this page and selecting Virtual Walk from the drop-down menu. You’ll have access to all the online fundraising tools and will be eligible for incentive prizes, just like the other Walks.
How can my company match my funds?
Every company has its own unique requirements so check with your Human Resources Department and ask for a matching gift form. Make sure you include your Name, Walk location, and Team name, if applicable, so we can apply the match correctly. The completed matching gift form can be mailed to AARDA, ATTN: Autoimmune Walk, 22100 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe, MI 48021 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will the matching gift display on my personal page?
Yes! As soon as AARDA receives the matching funds from your company, we will post it to the web site and it will be added to your overall fundraising total. You can also enter the 'pledge' online in your participant center. Just log in, then click on the "View Donations" button on the lower left side. Here you will see an option to "Enter Offline Donations". The gift will show up in your online total and in your thermometer on your personal page. When we receive the payment, we will confirm it.
How do I turn in donations?
Funds raised online are automatically directed AARDA. For funds raised offline, you may bring them to your local Autoimmune Walk site on the day of the Walk or mail them directly to AARDA National Headquarters:
AARDA - Attn. Autoimmune Walk
22100 Gratiot Ave.
Eastpointe, MI 48021
Remember to include the name of the walker in the memo portion of the check.
You can also enter the gift online in your participant center. Just log in, then click on the "View Donations" button on the lower left side. Here you will see an option to "Enter Offline Donations". The gift will show up in your online total and in your thermometer on your personal page. When we receive the payment, we will confirm it.
Who do I make checks payable to?
Please make checks payable to American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association or AARDA.
How long does it take for checks to show up on my account?
Checks that are mailed prior to the event are posted within 48 hours of receipt at AARDA. Any donations that you hand in on the day of the event can take a few days to one week to show up on your account. To avoid the wait, you can always encourage your donors to sponsor you online. Online donations are safe, easy, and immediate.
Are donations tax deductible and how do I get a receipt?
Yes. All donations are tax deductible as AARDA is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization. You will receive an automatic email receipt for each online contribution that you make. Additionally, your cleared check or credit card transaction can serve as a receipt. For your records, the AARDA Tax ID # is: 38-3027574. Check payments and Walk-site credit/debit card payments will receive a paper receipt and thank-you letter.
What do I need to bring with me to Autoimmune Walk?
Please bring any donations that you have collected offline. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Bring a rain poncho if there is a threat of rain and wear sunglasses and sunscreen if it is sunny. Remember that we walk rain or shine! Drinks and snacks will be provided, but you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch!
How do I obtain my incentives?
All walkers who raise $500 or more will receive their official Autoimmune Walk Sweatshirt at the event if possible, or mailed to them post-event.
If I'm on a team, do I have a separate check-in?
No. Team members check-in individually.
How does Team Fundraising work?
All donations should be credited individually to a walker. Although you can donate to a team, team donations do not count toward an individual’s efforts or to their prize redemption. By donating to a Walker you are supporting the team the walker is on and, of course, to the event as a whole. All donations to an individual roll up into the team total. Fundraising prizes and incentives are based on individual fundraising success. Teams can fund raise together and distribute the donations among team members.
What food is available at the Autoimmune Walk?
Light snacks and water will be available for you throughout the walk. Meals are not provided. You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch with you or foods if you have special dietary restrictions or needs.
What should I do if I have trouble registering or other technical difficulties?
Email email@example.com for assistance.
If you can’t find the answer to your question above, please feel free to contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Walk hotline at 1-855-239-2557.