Attorney loses wife to lupus, organizes Lupus Detroit scholarship fund

A prominent Detroit attorney is turning tragedy into triumph after losing a loved one to the autoimmune disease, lupus, and is hoping to offer hope to others battling the illness. 

Lupus happens when an unknown trigger causes a person's immune system to attack the body's tissues. It can happen out of nowhere, which is what happened to Todd Perkins wife. It changed his family forever.

Kennedy Perkins had dreams of her mom seeing all the big moments of her life.

"Before she died. I always wanted her to see me when I grow up, when I go to college or when I get married," Kennedy said.

It's the sort of thing many 9 year olds hope for and many get. But Kennedy won't. Her mom, Jetaun, died after complications from lupus.

"I felt really sad when she died because that means we won't get to spend time anymore, only when we go up to heaven will we spend more time together," Kennedy said.

It was April 2016 when Jetaun Perkins passed away.

"People are in your life for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. My wife was in my life for a season, I was in her life for a lifetime," her husband, Todd, said.

The couple had two children and shared love, happiness, and a life together. Suddenly, the life Todd shared was ripped away.

"Like it or not, you have to be ready for what happens afterwards [and] getting up the next morning," he said.

Out of tragedy, Todd is teaming up with Lupus Detroit to fund three $1,000 scholarships for students with lupus. He believes support can make a difference.

"I do believe that if she knew Sharon Harris and Detroit Lupus, the outcome would have been different," Todd said.

Davida Lee, a UofM Ann Arbor student was one one of the first recipients of the Jetuan Perkins Scholarship Fund. She even started a Lupus Detroit chapter on UofM's campus to help women, especially those of color, to know that there's support for lupus.

"I know I can encourage somebody else and let them know that it's okay to admit that you have lupus. I have a lupus, i'm doing well, I'm happy, I'm  healthy, I do all the things I want to do," Davida said.

Called the Perkins Fund, it's a beautiful reminder of his wife and the good we can do in this world.

"I have this to remember her by. Every day I get up and I wake them up in the morning. I won't stop. It doesn't stop," Todd said.

Davida says apply because it's more than just about the scholarship money, the support goes a long way too.

The Executive Director says so far, only one person has applied, but the organization is looking for "college students with lupus that are furthering their education (university, trade school, college)."

The deadline to apply is April 27th. To apply, please visit www.lupusdetroit.org

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