20th Anniversary of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12

20th Anniversary of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is Saturday, May 12, and to help the fibromyalgia community celebrate its 20th anniversary, the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) is sharing a short description of the origins and history of the organization.

Among the ways one can choose to celebrate the 20th National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, one is distinctly informative — sharing the history of the organization.

The story goes like this: In 1998 Lynne Matallana and Karen Lee Richards founded the NFA. From the start, these two advocates aimed to get as many cities, counties and states as possible to proclaim May 12 as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

awareness day
Credit: NFA

Mantallana and Richards mailed more than 100 proclamation packets to people and support groups nationwide with suggestions for how to talk to political leaders about the importance of raising awareness for fibromyalgia, which was a largely unknown disease at that time.

Eventually, the Los Angeles County (California) Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 12 as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. This was a milestone because the county includes 88 cities. About 25 additional jurisdictions in the U.S. followed the lead, and the next year, in 1999, about 150 proclamation packets were sent.

At the end of the first five years of the NFA’s existence, more than 2,000 proclamations were made by cities, counties, states, the U.S. Congress, and even the White House. Soon after, May 12 became known officially as National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

Today it is observed beyond the U.S. Since they started, Mantallana and Richards have persuaded several national, international, and political entities to proclaim May 12 as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. This has helped spread word that this disorder is a legitimate life-altering illness and that support is needed for the most underserved populations.

On this day, advocates call for more research and new treatments to help improve patients’ quality of life.

One way to help advocate for more research and better treatments, the NFA suggests, is to create a dedicated event or fundraiser. The NFA offers guidelines and tips to jump-start such an initiative.

Most importantly, the day is an occasion to celebrate those who fight fibromyalgia every day, or the fibro warriors who make the community thrive. May 12 also is an opportunity to gather family, friends and loved ones and let them know how much they are appreciated and valued.