GERMANTOWN -- It's a disease that not many people are aware of, let alone able to pronounce. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin and can be fatal in extreme cases. There is no cure.
"We're out here today because of a dear friend who lost her life to scleroderma," said Michele Fuchs, organizer of Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma.
Kinderberg Park in Germantown was transformed Sunday morning, Aug. 19 from a place of play -- to a place of action.
"We're raising money, awareness, for the disease in hopes to find a cure. It's an autoimmune disease and there's a lot of autoimmune diseases, but it affects the skin," said Fuchs.
It's a disease that hardens the skin, and in severe cases, can move internally -- hardening the organs and potentially leading to death. It's a disease that Stacie Slowiak suffers from.
"Well, it changed quite a bit because I could barely walk around the block. I couldn't sleep. My skin was itchy," said Slowiak.
Sunday's event brought them together for a walk that funds research to eradicate the disease.
"It's just nice to know that I'm out there helping to raise money for everybody -- help find a cure for some younger people who have the disease," said Slowiak.
In their 10th year, the group has raised more than $500,000.
"I feel good about it. I just feel good that we're doing something good and contributing to this," said Fuchs.
Experts with the Scleroderma Foundation of Greater Chicago said oftentimes, people with the disease are misdiagnosed.