Volunteering With the Lupus Foundation of America Keeps Best Friend’s Memory Alive 

Published on March 29, 2024

As an agency focused on helping to educate healthcare professionals on diseases and treatments, we never forget about the real people impacted by the work we do. One of our own team members, Kayla Lockwood, recently shared a personal story that highlights the importance of the work we do at FORCE Communications every day.  

Volunteering With the Lupus Foundation of America Keeps Best Friend’s Memory Alive 

I’ve volunteered with the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) and lupus-related causes since I was 16. As many in the nonprofit world know, we usually have a personal reason for getting involved. For me, it was my best friend, Kaitlyn, passing away unexpectedly from lupus when we were 15. She was always ready with a hug when I was down, always wanted to wear matching outfits, and truly brought me out of my shell. It was hard to grasp—I just knew that I needed to honor her in some way. 

I began volunteering for local walks, raising funds to support the organization in helping patients. I frequently read articles about lupus, hoping to understand the disease that’s often referred to as “the cruel mystery.” There’s currently no cure for lupus, and it’s often misdiagnosed, with an average diagnosis time of 6 years. 

As I got older, I became more determined to make a difference. At 21, I volunteered to go to Capitol Hill to speak to Congress about why lupus research funding is so important and deserves their support. I returned at ages 22 and 23 and virtually at 24 (the year the COVID-19 pandemic began); I even left a handmade poster on a congressional bulletin board that highlighted how special Kaitlyn was, as well as the need to cure lupus. 

Outside Congress, I’ve made several visits to a pharmaceutical company to assist in clinical trial development, providing details of what patients with lupus face and how the company might make their trials more comfortable and accessible to them. I had learned a lot from leading support group meetings where patients with lupus could come together and share their struggles with lupus in a safe space. 

I had the honor of speaking at a lupus gala in Kaitlyn’s memory. She had written in my yearbook that I always stick up for her, and I feel that sharing her story has allowed me to continue to do so, even if she isn’t here to see it. I was later awarded Lupus Volunteer of the Year.  

My first job after college was with LFA-IN as their office manager, where I organized the walks, galas, and symposia that a younger me had first participated in years ago. LFA-IN has since closed its doors, but the Lupus Foundation still exists. Many other organizations are actively participating in the fight against lupus, as well. I’ll be an advocate for patients with lupus for the rest of my life on behalf of the dear friend who left such a big mark on me in her short time here. 

This is what motivates us to Bring Science to Life and do our part to help people get fast, accurate diagnoses and access to the best available treatments. 


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