A rare skin condition that only affects 1% of the world’s population is picking up steam thanks to an awareness campaign on July 28 organized by Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School Vice-Principal Charlie Agro.
The idea was inspired after Agro met family and friends who have been living with this condition, called Vitiligo, which causes a loss of pigment cells on the skin.
While celebrities like late Michael Jackson and Winnie Harlow have been affected by this condition, Vitiligo still isn’t well recognized.
“As a teacher and an educator, I thought my main gift to offer is to help educate and inspire people,” said Agro.
After contacting St. Joseph’s Healthcare and learning that no official fund had been in place, Agro advocated for an establishment fund to begin in Hamilton, which he kickstarted with an awareness walk across the city. While there is no cure for Vitiligo, his mission focuses on raising awareness and funds to support individuals, particularly youth, that are affected with Vitiligo and may suffer from a lack of confidence.
“It's the first of its kind and is designed to understand some of the health challenges that affect people living with Vitiligo such as skin infections, diabetes, thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis,” noted a post on St. Joseph’s Instagram account, promoting the event.
Agro mapped out a route extending from his home in West Hamilton to his in-laws in Binbrook which he completed solo. With family by his side to cheer him on, Agro met with representatives from St. Joseph’s Healthcare at his parish, Corpus Christi, before embarking on his 6-hour walk.
Along the way, Agro visited over 15 businesses to drop off awareness flyers, collect donations and chat with locals about his cause.
“I basically contacted businesses along Rymal Road that I have met before who supported the cause and campaign and were looking forward to seeing me. They liked to hear about the cause, because it’s new to everyone. They were happy to listen, learn and support.”
Before the official start, the campaign had already generated over $5000 in donations and was recognized as the first official fund in Hamilton not only through the St. Joe’s Foundation, but by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour.
“My number one saying in all of this is you can’t change the way people will think, act and feel, but you can help inspire through education,” said Agro.
You can support Charlie's Walk and help those living with Vitiligo by making a donation here: http://stjoesfoundation.ca/CharliesWalk