BUFFALO, NY — A SUNY Buffalo State freshman has been chosen by the Lupus Foundation of America to speak to members of Congress about that incurable auto immune disease.
Naseer Jackson was a four-sport star athlete, until stricken last year during his senior year at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.
He has since dedicated his life to raising awareness of lupus.
After enduring chemotherapy, and taking enough different medicines to fill a pharmacy shelf, Jackson has made great strides in battling the disease, working to regain full use of his once paralyzed left side to the point that he has been medically cleared to play football next fall if he is able to do so.
Keeping a Promise
One thing the disease would not claim, was Jackson's resolve to not only to battle his own affliction, but to help others.
On a Friday evening, when many of his college classmates were likely gearing up for the weekend, Jackson manned a booth for the local Lupus Foundation at the Campbell Student Union.
"This is a disease that effects so many, and yet people don't really know about it," Jackson told WGRZ-TV. “And telling them why I’m sitting at this table was basically telling my story.”
He’ll be telling that story to a much larger and influential audience soon.
Mr. Jackson Goes to Washington
After reading an essay Naseer wrote about his own experience with lupus, a panel from the Lupus Foundation of America thought enough of it, and him, to select Jackson to go to Washington and meet with members of Congress. He will fly down on March 19, and spend the next two days meeting with Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Rep. Brian Higgins and anyone else willing to listen.
“If they just knew how many people were effected by Lupus, and how they struggle, and how finding a cure could change people’s lives…I feel like if they knew the story of others that it would affect their decision."
The decision Jackson refers to is how much funding is allocated to lupus research, and his message, he believes, could not come at a more important time.
“Congress is debating funding for critical lupus research…but people need it, there is nothing to debate,” said Jackson. “Not only for me, but for so many other people in this country and around the world.”
Jackson calls his disease, and his ability to speak about it a “blessing” and all part of “God’s plan” for him.
“I’m not cured, but will not be effected by it. I'm going to live every day as I would live just as I wasn't affected by it. I know every day will be a battle but I won’t lay down to lupus. I have time, and I have time to grow. I have time to learn and so the more I learn, the more I grow, and the more I will be able to help people," Jackson said.
Click on the video player above to watch our story from reporter Dave McKinley and photojournalist Ben Read.