Lupus affects at least 1.5 million Americans, mostly women of childbearing age. The auto-immune disorder can cause extreme fatigue, headaches, anemia, photosensitivity and edema, among other, at times, debilitating symptoms. Those afflicted with lupus, which is more prevalent than AIDS, sickle-cell anemia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis combined, are often misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease and a number of heart, lung, muscle and bone diseases.
Despite the prevalence of lupus across America, there is much misinformation about the disease, as many relate it to AIDS or cancer or assume it is contagious or sexually transmitted. In an effort to raise funds that may be used to further research, uncover its cause and find better ways to manage lupus, Christine Von Raesfeld, volunteer social media coordinator and patient educator for the Lupus Foundation of Northern California, in conjunction with artist Sonya Paz’s VinoPaint, held a small fundraiser on Feb. 23 at Santa Clara’s Mio Vicino restaurant.
Choosing to create a mixed media piece, “Let the Sunshine in,” out of Paz’s library of options, attendees were given the opportunity to be as creative as they desired, and no finished piece looked the same. “Everyone has their own voice … I like to keep it fun and interesting,” said Paz, adding that she enjoys throwing paint parties that allow guests to create something meaningful, optimistic and fun. “The [mixed media] pieces turn out so different, even though they have the same paint and tools.”
Paz and Von Raesfeld, both alumni of Saint Clare School, met through Von Raesfeld’s aunt, Colleen. “I had started coloring to relieve stress and started reading articles and talking to others about art therapy,” said Von Raesfeld, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2002, though doctors suspect she may have had the disease as early as 1989, the year she graduated from Saint Clare and began high school at Santa Clara.
“I mentioned it to my aunt Colleen who informed me that Sonya did events at VinoPaint. We got 30 friends and family members together for the night and Sonya graciously donated a portion to the Lupus Foundation. Since the first event was mainly family and close friends, I wanted to have one in the community to introduce other patients and friends to the benefits of art therapy and to give everyone an opportunity to actually forget about the disease for a moment.”
Von Raesfeld said paint party fundraisers are held based on interest and anticipated attendance and encourages those who would like to attend the next event to contact The Lupus Foundation of Northern California to stay informed. The foundation is also holding its first online patient education class on March 5 and each month the organization holds support groups. On Sunday, June 11, the foundation will hold its 23rd annual walk/run at West Valley College. Visit www.lfnc.org for more information.
Paz’s VinoPaint parties are available for fundraisers, date nights, girls night out, business teambuilding and corporate events. Visit www.vinopaint.com for more