NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Yorkers put on their walking shoes Saturday to raise funds for research for a cure for lupus – a serious chronic autoimmune disease.

Walk with Us for Lupus, the annual walk to benefit the Lupus Research Alliance, began Saturday morning at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Lupus is a serious disease that can affect anyone, though it is most often diagnosed in young women between the ages of 15 and 44. The cause is not known, but lupus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells.

Kenneth Farber, chief executive of the Lupus Research Alliance said the organization was set to raise $1 million, and would spend it all on “the best lupus research we can find.”

“One of the problems is there are treatments, but they’re imperfect. They have side effects. They don’t always work in all patients. What we want to do is develop newer, better and safer treatments,” Farber said.

He noted Benlysta, which is marketed as the first Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for lupus in 50 years and is injectable. But a “whole slew” of new treatments are also expected, he said.

Hayley Spira-Bauer took part in the walk with her team the G-Unit, as she has been doing for about the past 13 years. Spira-Bauer, 33, said she has had lupus since the age of 16.

“It is very emotional, especially now having my parents, my in-laws, my son, my husband, his cousins, all my friends – it’s very emotional to have them all here,” she said.

For more information on the Lupus Research Alliance, click here.

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