World Vitiligo Day 2012 - FOX 32 News Chicago

World Vitiligo Day 2012 bonds Michael Jackson with Fox 2's Lee Thomas

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Did Michael Jackson want to be white? Did he bleach his skin?

It's time for the truth to be told.

The truth about Michael is coming out June 25, the third anniversary of his death - which is World Vitiligo Day.

As many of you probably already know, Fox 2's Lee Thomas lives with Vitiligo. Raising awareness - and reaching out to people around the world who live with the disease - has been a daily mission for Lee. He even produced an award-winning documentary on his experience.

Lee also published a book titled, "Turning White: A Memoir of Change." You can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking on this link:

Monday on The Nine, Lee, Kam and Jason talked about the story Michael Jackson never told. The most famous entertainer in the world suffered from a disease called Vitiligo. And even after his death it's still one of the most misunderstood things about the king of pop. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that robs the body of it's pigment. It's the reason the most famous man on the planet went from black to white.

And Mr. Jackson was not alone. Well over 100 million people from all over the world suffer from this disease. It affects all nationalities, ages and genders, every level of social strata. One can find them in schools, hospitals, on TV and movies screens, sport arenas, and churches, while many went into seclusion and voluntary isolation from society.

Vitiligo is an acquired disease characterized by progressing skin depigmentation, due to destruction or malfunction of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin. It is present worldwide, and its prevalence in different countries ranges from less than 0.1% to more than 8% of general population (~1% in the United States and in Europe), while many cases go unreported due to the current dermatology practice.

Although viii daily has destroyed the lives of millions of individuals since recorded history, predominantly in the developing world, there is no cure in sight. Few diseases give rise to more fear and loathing than viii, especially in dark-skinned people, in whom it can be strikingly prominent. And because it is not contagious or life-threatening, patients often receive no support from national healthcare systems or insurance companies whatsoever.

The World Vitiligo Day is a public initiative aimed at building global awareness about viii. Its ambitious goal is to raise 500,000 signatures to address the United Nations in order to recognize this neglected and debilitating disease. The choice of this particular day is a memorial to the popular artist Michael Jackson, who suffered from viii since 1986 until his death, occurred on June 25, 2009.

This idea was first nursed by Steve Haragadon, the founder of the Vitiligo Friends network, and further developed by Ogo Maduewesi, the founder of the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF) from Nigeria. In early 2012, VR Foundation, a non-profit organization squarely focused on viii research, has joined the group to boost and to coordinate this mass-collaboration campaign. All activities are now united on the web site

Who is the VR Foundation?

Firmly committed to curing Vitiligo, the VR Foundation is a US-based philanthropic organization funding and fast-tracking medical research across the biomedical spectrum. With bio-IT tools, it provides a collaborative an environment to bridge the gap between scientific frontiers and the patients who need treatment. The VRF has recently joined a group of biotech companies that are bypassing traditional mass-market cosmetic and orphan drug development indications to expedite product development.

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