Rays of Fortitude was founded in 2005 by Chandra Russell, a 22 year Lupus Survivor. Chandra was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 21. Not knowing what lied ahead, Chandra had to educate herself and her family on Lupus and its effects. Through the process of gaining the knowledge of Lupus and fighting the disease daily, Chandra thought it appropriate to start an initiative to make sure that everyone was aware of Lupus and how it affects the lives of many. She educates and informs everyone of Lupus every where she goes. Chandra is a true example of living in-spite of Lupus and her strength has inspired many to fight harder as they battle Lupus and its symptoms. Fortitude means to strengthen the mind to endure pain or adversity with courage, thus fitting the Chandra’s life with Lupus.
Rays of Fortitude is a subsidiary of Teen Upward Bound Inc., where it is believed that strong families are built through awareness and education. Teen Upward Bound is a non-profit organization (documentation available upon request) that has been in existence for 15 years and serves Opa Locka, Miami Gardens and most of the North Dade area.
Rays of Fortitude is a member of the Lupus Foundation of America and the National Arthritis Foundation. Rays of Fortitude is growing more and more each day. Chandra has also been certified to be a support group facilitator by the Lupus Foundation of America. Rays of Fortitude plans to start its very own support group later this year.
Rays of Fortitude’s goal is to make everyone in our communities aware of Lupus, especially women of color. Women of color suffer from Lupus the most yet know the least. It is the vision of Chandra and Rays of Fortitude to change the perception that Lupus is the “mystery disease”. If we create more awareness and promote the education of Lupus, we will strengthen the fight to find a cure and save the lives of so many.