Chris Wilcox - Lupus

Chris Wilcox - Detroit Pistons

© By Sharon L. Harris

Chris Wilcox isn’t only a star on the court for the Detroit Pistons but also on the putting green. For the past two years, the 6 foot 10 Forward has hosted the annual Chris Wilcox Charity Golf outing that raises money for lupus research. Always up for a challenge, Chris said that he wanted to step outside of the realm of basketball and pay homage to a sport that is native to his hometown.
“We decided on a golf fundraiser instead of basketball because we thought it would attract a lot of members of our community. My hometown, Whiteville, NC, is outside of Myrtle Beach, and we have a very large golf community. We designed it as fun and interactive event and have experienced great success. The goal is to raise as much money as possible for Lupus research-the theme is "Power Forward to Cure Lupus". The Lupus Foundation of America has been our partner for the past two years,” he said.

Lupus has touched Chris’ family tremendously. His aunts Remonia and Brenda succumbed to the disease in August of 1991 and May of 1998, respectively. In addition to kidney and other organ failure, they both battled aching bones, swollen joints and rashes. In addition, Chris’ sister, Tehesia, was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) when she was a 17 year old high school senior. She was prompted to get tested for the disease after she started to suffer from aching joints and skin rashes. After her diagnosis, her doctors determined that she also had kidney involvement.

“Lupus is an inherited disease throughout our family, so while it wasn't a total shock, it was very sad for the diagnosis to become a reality. My mother and I were very supportive and kept my sister motivated, lifted her spirits, and focused on being positive for her,” Chris said.

Like many of the 5 million lupus survivors worldwide, Tehesia takes things day by day and is doing well. She realizes how fortunate she is to have a supportive brother.

"I think he has done a great job at raising money for lupus research. I am very proud in his accomplishments in doing so and I feel very honored and privileged to have such a loving and caring sibling," she said.

More folks have lupus than sickle cell anemia, cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis combined, yet it is the least known of all major diseases. Lupus research lags behind other diseases and therefore, the manufacturing of new medications. There have not been any new lupus medications in over 51 years since the Dwight Eisenhower Administration. Tehesia has a theory as to why this is happening.

“I believe research for lupus is so behind due to the fact that the disease is so spontaneous. It affects every individual differently which makes it difficult to find a set treatment. One day you are feeling great and the next day you may feel fatigue," she said.

As for the Wilcox family’s plan to combat lupus, they will continue to pray for a cure for the disease. And Chris will continue to be a Star, on and off the court.