SUSSEX COUNTY- Little is know about Lupus, its symptoms and treatment. However, for Stephanie Feldman, a second grade teacher in Sparta's Helen Morgan Elementary School, Lupus is a part of life. The teacher, who in 2003 was diagnosed with the disorder, is not alone in her family. She joins her mother, Kris Buckley, and sister, Alison Walsh, in battling the disease. Her mother has suffered with lupus since she was 13 yrs. old; however, her illness was realized only seven years ago. "She thought she was crazy, all these symptoms that would just pop up," recalled Feldman. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect the joints and almost every major organ in the body, including the heart, kidneys, skin, lungs, nervous system and brain. Doctors believe genetic factors play part in a person's risk of developing lupus. However, the onset of the disease may be triggered by environmental factors such as infection, stress or even sunlight. According to Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), "the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues and organs." Nine out of ten people who have lupus, are women and usually strikes between the ages of 15-45. Lupus is three times more common in African-American women than Caucasian women and according to the Lupus Foundation of America, over 16,000 Americans are being diagnosed with lupus each year with an estimated one million or more afflicted with the illness in the United States. Feldman and her family are not surrendering to the disorder that easily. If fact, they are fighting to make a difference, not only in their lives, but in the lives of others. The women are taking part in Walk With Us to Cure Lupus, a signature fund-raiser for the Alliance for Lupus Research. The New Jersey walkathon is the largest walk in the country and last year raised almost half a million dollars. The 5K walk-a-thon will take part on Saturday, June 18, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford. All the money raised goes directly to funding lupus research. Organizers are still seeking corporate sponsors, volunteers and participating. For more information call 866-WALK ALR (925-5257) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on how to to join Stephanie Feldman's team can also be found on the Web site.