Heidi Buono wants others to have a fighting chance against Lyme disease. She is raising awareness about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through her “Bite Back Against Lyme Run-Walk” in Albany, NY.
Nine years ago, on Halloween night, Heidi Buono received the scare of her life.
Although she had suffered from migraines and achey stiff joints in the past, she had simply dismissed her ailments as signs she was getting older. But that Halloween, she suddenly experienced fatigue so overwhelming she was unable to get off her living room couch. As Buono’s symptoms worsened in the days and weeks that followed, she underwent countless medical tests, but these all turned out negative. She couldn’t find a doctor near her Albany, NY home who could help her resolve the mystery.
Barely able to walk or talk and unable to care for her three children, the distraught Buono and her husband scoured the internet for answers, eventually finding a Lyme-literate physician two-and-a-half hours away who diagnosed her with late-stage Lyme and other tick-borne co-infections.
In the years since, life hasn’t been easy for Buono. All three of her children were diagnosed with Lyme and like most tick-borne disease sufferers their ailments come and go. Not quite three years ago, Buono’s mother—who had been suffering from chronic Lyme—passed away suddenly. With all the upheaval, Buono then suffered a serious Lyme relapse. She gave up her job as a life coach for special education teenagers and moved the family to a new home with a smaller lawn, hoping to reduce their exposure to ticks.
Now Buono is more determined than ever to make something positive out of her struggles. “I really feel it’s my mission in life to help those who are suffering from Lyme disease,” she says. “When someone mistakenly says that Lyme isn’t a big deal, I’m happy to stand up and set them straight about this debilitating illness.”
To raise public awareness about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, Buono is organizing a “Bite Back Against Lyme: Albany Run-Walk” to be held Sunday, September 10 at The Crossings of Colonie, in Loudonville, NY. Proceeds from the event will benefit Global Lyme Alliance, the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness.
The 5K run is open to all ages and abilities and will start at 11 a.m. inside The Crossings of Colonie park and a 1.5 mile walk will follow. Registration for all will open at 9:30 a.m. The Race will cover a flat 5K loop on designated routes, ending back inside the park. The event will be held rain or shine.
Individuals can pre-register for $35 each; families (up to six participants, same household) can pre-register at the family rate of $100. Registration on the day of the event is $40 for individuals and $105 for families. Participants who pre-register by September 1 will receive a free t-shirt.
Buono has organized similar Run-Walk events in the past, most recently in 2014. But today she feels it’s more important than ever to speak out about the danger of Lyme. “Unfortunately,” she said, “even in upstate New York where Lyme poses a very great risk, people—including doctors—don’t seem to get it.” This worries her. “My son’s friend found six ticks on himself, but when he went to the doctor, he was only given two antibiotic tablets—not enough to treat anything, much less early Lyme or other tick-borne illnesses.”
The event plans call for Dr. Holly Ahern—a microbiologist at SUNY Adirondack and co-founder of the Lyme Action Network—to speak at the event. Albany Massage therapists will offer free massages and there will be plenty of free snacks and bottled water. There will also be a raffle and a gentle Zuma pre-workout.
“We’re excited about this upcoming event,” said GLA CEO Scott Santarella. “In addition to raising awareness and funding—both so important to help fight Lyme and other tick-borne diseases—Heidi’s event will provide an opportunity for those who’ve been affected by these illnesses to come together and find a sense of community and common purpose. Bite Back Against Lyme is all in the cause of finding an accurate diagnostic test, effective treatments and ultimately discovering a cure for devastating tick-borne diseases.”