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Covington Woman Helps Craft Resolution Bringing Statewide Recognition to Disease

A Covington resident and scleroderma patient worked with State Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington) on a resolution that designates June as Sclerdoerma Awareness Month in Kentucky.

The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly in February.

Musician and actress Queen Latifah revealed to PEOPLE in 2014 that her mother, Rita Owens, suffers from the autoimmune disease scleroderma. Still, too many people in the United States know nothing about this rare, mysterious, and frequently disabling condition that affects nearly 300,000 people in the U.S, an activist foundation stated in a news release. Overall, women living with the disease between the ages of 25 and 55 years old outnumber men 4-to-1.  

“The more the public is aware of scleroderma, the more potential for prompt diagnosis and treatment for scleroderma patients, said Kathie Schwartz, a Covington resident who is treated for scleroderma. She worked with Simpson on the resolution. "There is currently no known cure for the disease, but symptoms and irreversible damage can be minimized with proper treatment from qualified physicians. Educating the public encourages more research for improving the quality of life for patients and finding a cure."

The Scleroderma Foundation Ohio Chapter serves Ohio and Kentucky residents with support groups to help patients and their families, Schwartz said.

For more than 20 years, the Scleroderma Foundation, its chapters, and support groups have recognized June as Scleroderma Awareness Month, marking it with annual awareness and fundraising events, as well as obtaining presidential, state and local proclamations. With Kentucky House Resolution 53, Kentucky joins those entities that have proclaimed June as Scleroderma Awareness Month. The Scleroderma Foundation has joined the Scleroderma Society of Canada, the Federation of European Scleroderma Associations (FESCA), and other international scleroderma organizations in recognizing June 29 as World Scleroderma Awareness Day.

-Staff report