Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras Baraka and local citizens are joining communities around the nation to raise awareness about Americans living with fibromyalgia.

Baraka recently proclaimed May 12 “Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.” The New York/New Jersey Caterpillar Walk at Hudson River Park is the first such walk taking place in the New York-New Jersey area.

The Caterpillar Walk has nearly 200 registered participants and will host a special performance by inspirational singer-songwriter Bobby Long. The walk will also feature presenters from NYU and the National Institute for Health, which join the efforts of the walk by talking about medical and research advancements and approaches to care for those living with fibromyalgia.

“Knowledge is key,” said Mildred Velez, a volunteer leader of the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association. “Raising awareness and making this disease more visible can save lives while helping to raise awareness within the medical community and the community at large.”

Fibromyalgia, which is often misdiagnosed or stigmatized, causes generalized pain, fatigue and a host of symptoms that oftentimes are ignored by medical providers. As a result of misdiagnosis and of poor understanding by the medical community, sufferers often feel isolated and misunderstood. Many resort to self-medication and, tragically, even suicide because of inadequate care and irresponsibility on behalf of medical providers.

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