Poplarville native works to bring Lupus awareness and created nursing scholarship

Published 8:54 am Friday, June 3, 2022

For the past five years, Poplarville native Christy Michelle and her siblings have hosted a Lupus Awareness Walk and recently started a nursing scholarship in their late mother’s honor.

Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks the body’s tissues.

Five years ago Michelle’s mother Virginia A. Magee, along with Olivia Willis and Michael Magee Jr., started the Lupus Awareness Walk in Poplarville. Magee was diagnosed with Lupus in 2012 and passed away in 2019 due to complications from the illness. Now her children carry on the torch to bringing awareness to the state of Mississippi, a state in the nation that does not have a Lupus Foundation. Magee was a retired nurse and a Pearl River Community College graduate where she received her license in the Practice Nursing Program.

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“It was important to her to reach out to her community because even though she retired from nursing due to Lupus she was still trying to be very active with the community there and bring awareness through the different churches. It was her passion,” said Michelle.

Lupus is hereditary, so after their mother’s passing, Michelle and her sister Olivia Willis sought testing, and have since been diagnosed with Lupus.

Michelle now lives in Georgia but still visits Poplarville often especially in the month of May, which is Lupus Awareness month. Georgia has a Lupus Foundation so Michelle uses that avenue to bring awareness back to Poplarville.

“I use my resources there in Georgia to spread awareness here in Mississippi and the Georgia foundation has been really great with helping us out with that,” said Michelle.

In 2021 they hosted a virtual walk through Facebook Live due to COVID, but in 2022 the walk returned to in-person. It was held in late May, starting at City Park in Poplarville. Michelle also organizes a walk in Georgia. Through her efforts, Michelle has connected with a lot of people in Pearl River County who support and attend the yearly walks. She provides pamphlets at every walk that describe what Lupus is, the symptoms and that it predominately affects African American men and Asian women. They also provide information about doctors and hospitals that can treat Lupus in Mississippi.

“It’s just about giving people that information to start learning about how to help their loved ones who may be dealing with Lupus,” said Michelle.

This year’s walk included the second year of the Virginia A. Magee Memorial Nursing Scholarship, started up by Michelle and her sister. Each year they sell shirts at the walk to raise the proceeds that fund the scholarship. The scholarship is only for Pearl River County students interested in undergoing the LPN program at PRCC. It provides the recipient with $250 per semester. Criteria to be eligible for the scholarship includes being an incoming or current full time student attending PRCC, be enrolled at the LPN program at PRCC with a minimum 2.0 GPA, a resident of this county and an essay review. There is no application deadline and applications can be filed at Foundation Scholarships Pearl River Community College (prcc.edu).

Michelle said the plan is to increase the amount based on the money raised.

The scholarship was a great way to honor their mother who saw nursing and giving back to the community important to her.