A server hands me a glass of champagne and my partner and I peruse the silent auction items, the striking artwork made by and representing those living with arthritis, and the stage that will host this year’s entertainment and where the live auction will take place. The women are dressed in their evening gowns and glittery heels (for some, sandals and wedges); the men come in suits and polished dress shoes. People gather to enjoy an elegant evening with good food, champagne and entertainment; they come to connect with one another, but most importantly they come to support arthritis research and the millions of people living with some form of inflammatory arthritis.
May was arthritis awareness month, but really every month is arthritis awareness especially for those of us who live with it. Arthritis in all its forms is the number one reason people leave their jobs and go on disability. It doesn’t discriminate against age or sex, but it does steal lives. Every year the annual ARThritis Soiree, hosted by Arthritis Research Canada, organizes this notable evening and invites the community to spread awareness and support life-saving research for the millions of Canadians living with some form of inflammatory arthritis.
Arthritis is mostly an invisible disease that flies below the radar – events like The ARThritis Soiree make it visible and shows people how this disease impacts lives and what can be done about it. This event is unique in not only does it draw our attention to the seriousness of inflammatory arthritis, it gives us the opportunity to learn and share our stories with others and come together to celebrate the evolving progression in the fight against disease. Everyone involved in this event is providing support and encouragement through sponsorship, services, and volunteer work. This year, with the help of the B.C. government, $2,355,000 was raised for arthritis research. Not too shabby for an invisible disease.
My partner and I danced, we bid on our own silent auction item (and won); we listened to stories of others living with this disease and applauded their victories – but most of all we celebrated how far we’ve come, how much further we can go, and the remarkable life we have in the face of arthritis today.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.
Rock the RA, JG !!!