June 25, 2019

By JOE WEPPLER

JWawearness “Paper with Purpose” is the theme of the sixth annual “aWEARness” runway performance show being presented by second-year visual merchandising arts students on Friday, March 4 at Conestoga College.

“Our challenge was to create costumes solely out of paper,” said Shauna Wiley, one of the students presenting at the show.

The event will take place in the library at Doon campus, and tickets are $15 for both the runway show and light refreshments at the open house afterwards.

“We want to show off our program, but also show our families and friends what we’ve put our hearts and souls into these past years,” said Alayna Poetker, another second-year visual merchandising student.

In vitiations will be handed out to the audience members after the show, inviting them to the visual merchandising arts room in the college for refreshments and the opportunity to check out more displays and outfits that the class has worked on.

Each year, proceeds from the show go to a different charity chosen by the class. This year, the choice was the G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector-Borne Diseases. The primary focus of the foundation is to establish Canada’s first research facility to study Lyme disease and other vector-borne illnesses.

“It’s a personal connection with me. My sister has Lyme disease,” said Wiley.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of infected vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. It can cause symptoms similar to ALS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, but remains one of the top 10 misdiagnosed diseases in the world.

“My sister went to countless doctors and was always getting different diagnoses. No one was able to pinpoint what was going on with her or why she was having these symptoms,” she said.

It took heading to the United States to finally confirm what the problem was.

“She got to the point where she just said ‘test everything’ and results came back positive for Lyme disease. It’s been about two years now, but, unfortunately, the treatment in Canada is not as advanced as what they have in the United States,” she said.

Treatment for Lyme disease is primarily antibiotics, but specific approaches and symptoms can be dependent on the individual. That’s what makes it so hard to diagnose and even harder to treat.

“She went down to Florida for a few months last year. The treatment helped, but it never really goes away. All you can do is manage the symptoms. The treatment is very expensive down there, which is why it’s imperative that they build a facility in Canada that can hopefully help treat it,” she said.

The class of second-year visual merchandising arts students is tight-knit, so it was an easy decision for them to make.

“Every year the class decides together what charity to donate to. We all know each other well, and we all know about her sister’s Lyme disease, so we thought it would be great to have that as our charity,” said Poetker.

For more information on the event or to check out samples of their work, go to www.visualmerchandisingarts.com. To purchase tickets, you can call 519-748-5220, ext. 2401. All proceeds go directly to the G. Magnotta foundation. There will also be a donation box at the show for those who wish to pledge more. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. on March 4 in the Doon campus library.

As for Wiley’s sister, she’s not only just coping – she’s fighting back.

“She’s actually my model for the event. She’ll be up there on the runway,” she said.

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