The lupus malar, or “butterfly” rash across the nose and cheekbones was the inspiration for the Lupus Foundation of America’s purple butterfly – a sign of lupus, symbol of hope and a call for public and governmental support. The lupus butterfly symbol, in a dramatic and easily recognizable shade of deep purple, is meant to draw the eye; a pin, shirt or sticker with this logo invites questions, and gives the wearer opportunities to talk with others about the disease.

Websites hosted by organizations such as the LFA sell items with the butterfly to raise money, with the aim of funding research that might result in a cure. However, friends and family of lupus sufferers, or even people who haven’t been directly affected by lupus but want to show support, are also encouraged to wear the butterfly. Money for research is definitely needed – but forming a community of people who understand the difficulties of living with this disease is even more vital. The purple butterfly is the hallmark of that community – and an invitation to join it.

 

Big Names and Big News

 

Fundraising is also possible through sponsored events like “Walk For Lupus” and can be incorporated into open-house health fairs. But the Butterfly Gala, an evening of guest speakers and entertainers, is fundraising on a grand scale. Celebrities, Congressmen and other well-known public figures attend the Gala, which is held once a year in May, officially designated Lupus Awareness Month. The aim is to educate as well as solicit donations; to make it clear that lupus is very prevalent in the United States, and while huge advances have been made in the field of research, a cure has not yet been found.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to help all year round. Volunteers can host seminars, speak at events, assist in community outreach, meet with state and federal legislators, or even facilitate or lead a support group. Local chapters of the LFA have individual websites that list contact numbers and addresses available to anyone who would like to volunteer.

The lupus butterfly symbol, like the butterfly itself, embodies transformation – turning a symptom of lupus into an image of optimism and positivity, turning a lack of public awareness into widespread understanding, turning a painful and debilitating disease into a commitment to finding a cure. Support for the cause continues to grow, and because of that support, more energy and resources have been allocated to those determined to eliminate lupus for good.