Approximately 40 students participated in Delta Sigma Theta sorority's fourth annual Lupus Walk on Oct. 19, a 5-kilometer walk around Westhampton Lake that raised money for lupus research and awareness.

Throughout the morning, volunteers were posted around the lake cheering participants on, playing music and serving water, senior Rachel Brown said. Brown, Delta Sigma Theta's financial secretary, led participants in an aerobic warm-up before the walk.

During the race, participants were encouraged to walk or run at their own leisure, said Lyniesha Wright, the chapter's vice president. Various campus organizations, including the Spanish and Latino Student Alliance (SALSA) and business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, came to show their support, Wright said.

The walk raised $507 from student donations, treasurer Ayanna Adams said.

In 2009, Delta Sigma Theta decided to host a walk benefiting lupus disease because research shows that women are more likely than men to be diagnosed, Brown said. In addition, lupus is twice as prevalent among women of color, she said.

Some chapter members have their own personal ties to this cause. Ten years ago, Brown's close family friend passed away from lupus.

"It was terrible to see how much pain she endured and how physically weak she became after fighting it for a long time," she said.

To plan the race, the chapter worked in collaboration with the Lupus Foundation of Virginia, Brown said. Although Delta Sigma Theta is not a national partner of the foundation, the sorority's Richmond chapter has been committed to finding the cause and cure of this disease for years, she said.

The Lupus Walk falls under Delta Sigma Theta's Five-Point Thrust Program, Wright said. According to the sorority's national website, the Five-Point Thrust is used as an organizing structure to create programs that benefit the African-American community. Saturday's walk is part of an initiative to promote awareness in issues of physical and mental health, Wright said.

"Above all, we want participants to have fun and get a good workout in," Wright said. "We also want them to feel proud that they are helping find a cure for lupus."

Brown said she hoped participants left the walk knowing that their time, donations and positive energy had made an impact on finding a cure and spreading awareness.

"We primarily want participants to carry forth the ideas of passion and teamwork needed to not only help find a cure for lupus, but pass on love everywhere," she said.

Contact reporter Gaby Calabrese at gaby.calabrese@richmond.edu