Photo from last year’s Walk of Hope courtesy of RESOLVE.

RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, is holding the 2nd Annual Southern California Walk of Hope in Long Beach on Sunday, September 21 from 9:00AM to 12:00PM at the Claremont Boat Launch. The walk is a one-mile step-by-step journey that represents the painstaking trial of battling an oftentimes life-changing medical condition. This will be the first time the Walk of Hope has been held along the shores of Long Beach.

The Southern California Reproductive Center, one of the top fertility clinics in the country, will be attending the walk, represented by Dr. Wendy Chang, a physician and fertility doctor.

Chang said, “This Walk and other Resolve events like it, really show the public that infertility is a valid and real medical concern affecting up to 15% of reproductive aged individuals. It truly validates the efforts of patients with infertility, and can help introduce the concept of infertility to the public conversation so that patients feel more free and open to share their struggles with their friends and family.”

On how all families are built differently, Chang explained, “The Walk of Hope can help highlight for the public that parents and families truly come in all different forms, including mom and dad, or two moms, or two dads, or one parent. And we want family building options to be available to everyone!”

According to RESOLVE there are 7.3 million Americans who suffer from infertility, 858,000 of which reside in California. There are 22 support groups in Southern California while the state has an insurance mandate that covers infertility treatment. RESOLVE believes wholeheartedly that no one should have to face infertility alone.

Chang spoke about how no one should take their fertility for granted, even in the face of a demanding career or other all-encompassing circumstances. She explained, “I think that now more than ever it is important for people to start thinking about their fertility as an important personal health attribute. Just as we take care of ourselves and undergo screening to prevent heart disease and diabetes, or to reduce our cancer risk, we should also be aware that fertility is a limited and precious health commodity. There are effective tests to assess ovarian and sperm function, and anatomy that all reproductive aged individuals should be aware of. For example, I hope that eventually, the idea of AMH testing for a woman’s ovarian reserve becomes as commonplace as thyroid or blood sugar screening. And I think the Walk of Hope is key to increasing awareness for these tests among the public.

500 walkers are expected to attend in an effort to acknowledge the many ways in which families are built and to help give a voice to the 1 in 8 couples nationwide that are struggling to bring life into this world. Funds raised will support local programming, public awareness and advocacy efforts to help direct more attention toward the issue.

This month RESOLVE started the Countdown Calendar Challenge, encouraging participants of the upcoming walk to share their stories and fundraising tips.

The Art of Infertility, a traveling art exhibit based in Jackson, Michigan, seeks to educate the community about infertility as well as to provide a creative outlet for those struggling with the disease. Elizabeth Walker, lead organizer, will be attending the Walk of Hope.

Walker said, “Dealing with the disease of infertility is very stressful. There are so many things you lose control over. Your body, your schedule (due to the time sensitive manner of infertility treatments) your ability to achieve your goals in the time frame you’ve planned…

Art can be an amazing outlet and throughout my infertility journey, I found myself turning to art as a way to process my emotions. I also used it as a way to have a visual representation of what I was experiencing. Something that would help others understand what a huge impact it had on my life and that would serve as a way to document my personal history.”

Walker hopes to attend the walk to promote the ART of Infertility and to to hopefully intrigue a few artists from Long Beach into showing their work. Walker said, “My plan is to attend the Walk of Hope and start putting together an exhibit that will run in California sometime in 2015. I’m very excited to be working with the Infertility community, both in Northern and Southern California to gather artwork both for a mini exhibit and toward a larger show next year.”

Registration for individuals or teams is available online before the event, or in person the day of the event at 9:00AM. Registration and the start of the walk will be located at Claremont Boat Launch at Granada Beach in Long Beach, CA (54th St and Ocean Blvd).

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].