Fibromyalgia Awareness Contest Winners
Awareness for fibromyalgia (FM) on May 12th has become a tradition for 15 years, carried out by patients and advocates looking to make a difference in the lives of others with this invisible disease. For the Fibromyalgia Network’s contest this year, we are rewarding the top 10 winners who submitted both a picture and story of the most creative activities for May 2012 fibromyalgia awareness. Check out what the top five have done to raise awareness.
Going All Out
Shelly Echtle, of the North Texas Fibromyalgia Group
“I asked every member to contact their city officials (as well as doctors) to make a proclamation of fibromyalgia awareness day. Three got it done, and I was proud,” says Echtle. They also set up an awareness both outside their local Walmart, passing out 80 brochures, Fibromyalgia Network Journal copies, as well as buttons, bookmarks, and other awareness items.
Between holding an awareness picnic (complete with a balloon release, pinata, egg toss, and car painting), scrap-booking a fibromyalgia display for their local library, a Facebook campaign showing the faces of FM, and a post card campaign, this group went all out. Using the slogan, “Fibromyalgia is a pain in our sass,” this support group even held a garage sale several days later to raise money for next year’s support group!
Talk Radio & Talent Show
Laura Roza, of Tampa Fibro Friends
“On May 8, 2012, two group members and myself were invited to speak about fibromyalgia on a talk radio show called ‘Prescribed Comedy,’” says Roza. Following this appearance, Tampa Fibro Friends also set up a booth at the Largo Community Center’s grand opening in Largo, Florida for the all-day event. By handing out flyers and information, they were able to spread awareness to a large number of people.
In addition to appearing on the hour-long talk show, Roza’s support group held an annual talent show fund-raiser on May 18. “We set up a small booth at the show, along with having about five minutes of stage time to talk about fibromyalgia and how it can affect a person’s life.” This group is also working on getting bigger next year.
High Tea Event
Kaye Brand, of the Fibromyalgia Support Network
“In Perth, Australia, we celebrated International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day with a High Tea at a local function center,” says Brand. The food was combined with poetry readings by the support group’s members. The group also sought to acknowledge awareness as prizes were given out to commemorate May 12th.
The goal is to make this an annual event. “We need to talk about what fibromyalgia is; we need to educate our communities about how many of us with this condition may not always be at our best and our bodies are unreliable. We have to overcome the stigma of our supposed hypochondria and educate the uneducated in this matter. This is what increases community awareness,” says Brand, the group’s president.
Pets for Pain Patients
Ginnilee Berger, of GentleHugs4Paws Kitty Therapy
“My big awareness project is a group called GentleHugs4Paws—dedicated to helping all chronic pain sufferers who need a therapy animal,” says Berger. She is also part of a fund-raiser to generate money to support the project, and firmly believes that having an animal makes dealing with FM and chronic fatigue syndrome easier.
The intention of her fund-raiser is to help those who are unemployed and can’t afford pets, to adopt them and pay for the costs to keep them. “It benefits both chronic pain sufferers and the shelters where all of these sweet animals live who want someone to love them, and share their own love,” says Berger.
Mary Langley and Maria Spinnato-Fogassy, of the Maryville Fibromyalgia Support Group
This group held a Fibromyalgia Awareness Day craft show to raise money for research and their support group. They also organized a community “Wear Purple” day to spread awareness, and passed out flyers promoting the event. Members stood outside local stores to pass out information on the Craft show and wear purple day to support the cause.
“This is our first Fibromyalgia Awareness Day since our group just started in January,” says Mary Langley, the support group leader. The story of these events were published in the town newspaper, and they even got Governor Jay Nixon to sign a fibromyalgia proclamation. Not bad for a first event!
The remaining winners are: Kat Foote of the Santa Barbara FMS/CFS Support Group, Mindy Cohen of the Rahway Fibromyalgia Support Group, Anuradha Pentapalli, and Colleen Tarver.
All of the top ten winners will be rewarded with a free one-year Membership or renewal to the Fibromyalgia Network. Congratulations to all on a great job this year! We hope everyone is inspired and proud of the awareness efforts being made to promote better public understanding of fibromyalgia.