Breast cancer has Pinktober, men’s health owns Mo-vember and heart disease prevention reigns in February.

But on this Leap Day — the rarest of days — many people around the world are observing “Rare Disease Day” to call for more research into treating serious illnesses that typically fall under the radar.

Of the 7,000 diseases classified as “rare,” only about 400 have an effective treatment. Research of diseases that affect a tiny percentage of the population is woefully underfunded, say advocates from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), the national sponsor of Rare Disease Day.

Efforts to designate a day to shine a spotlight on the plight of those with rare diseases began eight years ago in Europe.

“Rare Disease Day” is usually observed on the last day of February, and it takes on special significance during Leap Years.

In Minnesota, the campaign includes an event to be held March 10 at the Capitol for legislators, media and the general public. The purpose of the event, organizers say, is to raise awareness among state leaders of the challenges faced by the 1 in 10 people who are living with a rare disease.

There’s even a rare disease happy hour event happening Feb. 29 at Insight Brewing in Minneapolis. Attendees are invited to wear “something one-of-a-kind” and buy a “Wear Something Rare” button to show support for the cause.

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