Newswire | Disability-Led Opera Company Raises Awareness for Chronic Illnesses Linked to COVID-19

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April 29, 2022 (Vancouve­r, BC) – This May, Canada’s first fully disability-run opera company is rallying the community in support of those with chronic illnesses. From May 1-June 1, Vancouver’s Opera Mariposa is presenting their tenth annual Benefit + Awareness campaign, aiding the ME | FM Society of BC and people with chronic neuro-immune diseases. The event honours the International Awareness Month for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Fibromyalgia (FM), and includes videos, music, art, shopping and over $3,500 in prizes.

In keeping with the company’s mandate for accessibility, Mariposa’s Benefit + Awareness event offers an online format that’s pandemic-safe and internationally-accessible. “Like many arts companies, we’re navigating an evolving reality these days,” says general manager Stephanie Ko, “but one thing remains clear: the high-risk chronic illness community needs support and solidarity. Over a million Canadians have ME or fibromyalgia – many of them so sick, they’ve essentially lived in lockdown since before most people knew what that meant. As a group, these patients already faced the greatest poverty levels and unmet healthcare needs in Canada. Then the pandemic hit and made everything worse.”

Ko says Covid-19 has added urgency in another way, too. “These types of illnesses are often triggered by viruses – in fact, researchers warn that 1 in 10 Covid patients will likely develop ME. It happened after other viral outbreaks like SARS, and we’re already seeing an avalanche of Covid patients with all sorts of long-term health impacts.” Both Ko and her sister, Mariposa’s artistic director Jacqueline Ko, can relate to this from personal experience. “My sister and I developed ME after catching a virus as schoolchildren. We’ve been sick for over 20 years, and now more than ever it feels vital to raise awareness, and to help fund desperately-needed research and resources.”

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Mariposa’s Benefit + Awareness campaign showcases work by disabled and chronically ill artists including soprano Jacqueline Ko, YouTuber Robin Hahn and visual artists Christina Baltais and Toni Scott. The event also features prizes from local businesses including Stong’s Market, Chai Ghai tea company, Long & McQuade, Kam Wai Dim Sum and many more. Donations to the event will be triple-matched up to the fundraising goal; learn more and participate at benefit.operamariposa.com or by texting MARIPOSA to 1-855-202-2100 until June 1st.

About Opera Mariposa

Opera Mariposa is Canada’s first fully disability-led and run company, dedicated to #MakingOperaAccessible for all. Recognized as “[one of]Canada’s key indie players” (Opera Canada Magazine), they work to create inclusive opportunities for emerging and underrepresented artists, while their internationally-recognized Benefit + Awareness events have raised over $100,000 to date for chronic illness-focussed charities and healthcare programs. operamariposa.com

About the ME | FM Society of BC

The ME | FM Society of BC is a registered charity working to support people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and/or Fibromyalgia (FM) throughout British Columbia. Their purpose is to educate and increase awareness of ME and FM within the healthcare community, government and public; to provide information and support for patients and their families; to champion causes impacting the ME and FM community; and to promote state-of-the-art medical research, testing, diagnosis and treatments. www.mefm.bc.ca

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