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Dozens of celebrities including actors Matt Damon, Cheech Marin, and Hockey Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr are helping to raise funds for a research centre dedicated to pediatric rheumatology at Canada’s B.C. Children’s Hospital

Inspired by Karim Chandani, founder of Celebs for Kids in partnership with the Arthritis Society of Canada and Lupus Canada, the $3.5 million project – the Ross Petty Research Chair in Paediatric Rheumatology – will address the enormous lack of knowledge about Lupus in both the medical field and the general public, and the fact that there is currently no such research or treatment facility in Canada.

According to lupus sufferer Dr Jan McCaffrey, lupus is difficult to diagnose or treat because it affects every patient differently and has only a fraction of the research or public awareness compared to that of other well-known diseases. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy body systems and tissues, resulting in pain and organ damage. McCaffrey says, “If I had to write a bumper sticker for doctors and lupus with a view of helping diagnose patients sooner, I would say, ‘If it doesn’t make sense, think of lupus.’”

Celebs for Kids is Chandani’s response to his daughter’s lupus diagnosis last year. “It started out being about my daughter,” he says, “but it very quickly changed when I found out about the amount of kids who are affected.”

Celebs for Kids has three major fundraisers planned. Two will be in August: star-studded poker and golf tournaments hosted by Grant Fuhr, who has invited several friends to participate – including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Kevin Costner and Lil Jordan.

There promises to be a celebrity at each table, live entertainment and a fashion show at the funny money poker game on the 14th. The golf tournament the next day will offer things like $1 million dollar hole-in-one, luxury cars to win, prizes per hole ranging from $20,000 to $375,000, a dinner cruise and gala evening. “We have three levels at the River Rock where 700 guests can mix and mingle with tons of celebrities,” said Chandani. “We have spent no money. Everything has been sponsored or donated and it’s been absolutely amazing.”

The third fundraiser is the $7 million Facebook challenge, ongoing until December 2 where Facebookers can donate a dollar at a time, recruit their friends to do the same and spread the word.

Chandani says, “We are excited about the power social media networks have to create mass awareness and exposure for these diseases. I’m so motivated by this to make things happen and change things very quickly.”

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