Friday, July 8, 2011

fantasy tries to defeat real-life health issues, steampunk style

Team Wench, a group that attends and holds many events to support breast cancer and multiple sclerosis walks, is sponsoring a fantasy ball for the fifth year in a row.  Previous balls have included Arabian Nights, Alice in Wonderland, and A Midsummer Night's Dream themes.

This year, however, the group has invited steampunk and faerie imagery into its midst.  The ball, which will take place on Saturday, October 29 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burie, Maryland, is themed Goblins and Gears:

An eccentric professor has spent years tinkering in his laboratory with one, single-minded goal: to build a time machine. Recently, he had a break-through and his machine functioned... but not precisely how the Professor intended. Instead of traveling through time, his machine ripped a hole into the Court of the Goblins! Now, with the blessing of the powerful Goblin Queen, all the Faerie Kingdoms are coming through the tear and are thoroughly enjoying their time in the Earth-bound world...and at our Ball!

This event strikes a few personal chords with me.  Not only does its steampunk and Labyrinth influences appeal to my aesthetic tastes, but the cause itself is close to my heart.  My grandmother had multiple sclerosis for 25 years, which progressed to the point where she was paralyzed from the neck down.   I never baked cookies with her, I never played with her, and in the last 12 years of her life the disease had gotten so bad that she had to be spoon-fed, dressed, and wore diapers while out.  As a result she mostly remained shuttered in her house.  All of this she bore with dignity and grace, at least whenever I saw her.

Although depressed by the drastic change in quality of life due to this disease, she never let on throughout the years to her children or grandchildren. She remained sharp, a great conversationalist, and totally engrossed in her children's and grandchildren's lives.  I told her about all of my doings, showed her my projects, answered her questions about my after-school activities and even played my saxophone for her when I was first learning.  I felt close to her even though she was not an "active" grandparent.

The disease itself did not kill her.  Three years ago she contracted pneumonia and passed away shortly after.  But the disease took away her ability to dance, which she loved to do, and made attending family events and activities strenuous and cumbersome to her.

Part of the reason for her body's degeneration was the lack of knowledge about multiple sclerosis when she was diagnosed in the early '80s. Doctors advised her to rest, not knowing at the time that lack of physical activity speeds up the progression of the disease.  Research funded by groups such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since then has helped others to avoid the worst-case scenario that was my grandmother's quadriplegic condition.

So while the ticket prices for this event make me cringe, I do believe that the cause is worthy.  I hope to attend this year- Glen Burie, Maryland is only a few hours away from Pittsburgh.  The other advantage to this event is I might, just might be able to talk some of my family members into going and sporting fantasy costumes.  That would totally be worth the money spent to see my conservative mother with faerie wings and glittery makeup.  If not I think I can scrounge up at least one friend who wouldn't mind going.

Let Jareth the Goblin King and Captain Nemo help people like my grandmother have a better quality of life with this debilitating disease.  Come to the Goblins and Gears Fantasy Ball on October 29.

Buy tickets here. 

Grandma Hope, may you laugh and dance into eternity.

1 comment:

  1. This made me cry. I'm so glad you had fun! We're doing it all again, bigger and better, on 10/27/12.