By Jennifer Dye Visscher
Jennifer Dye Visscher created the “Art Apple A Day Project” and started painting daily apples on October 1, 2010 as a way to help bring awareness to ankylosing spondylitis. You can see her work online at thefeedingedge.com. On Friday, September 30, 2011, Jenna held an event and painted in Times Square, at the Roy Arias Studios at 300 West 43rd Street. She held a 24-hour Apple-A-Thon to help increase awareness of spondylitis, raise funds and just have fun while painting.
What inspired you to do the event and fundraise?
I’m inspired every day by people who manage spondylitis. I know how difficult a diagnosis and a life with Spondylitis is because I live it too. I feel that since I have been fortunate enough to find a course of treatment that works so well for me and that I am able to work where others cannot, I had a responsibility to help in any way I could to talk about the disease and issues surrounding it. I feel we have the biggest responsibility of all to work to share our stories and become advocates and health activists, but we also need to financially support organizations like SAA. We are the ones with the most to gain by money going to education and research and I feel that we need to play a larger role.
How well did the event go?
The event went great! I was able to paint just over 100 apples in the 24 hours and we had donations of $25 for each of those apples as well as larger donations for Art Posters, multiple apples, and a very generous corporate sponsorship from BJC Connected Care in Australia. I was so amazed at the support of friends, family, fellow ASers and strangers. The efforts of Holly Sanders were phenomenal. Because Holly shared and supported the event, she was directly responsible for hundreds of dollars as well as 313 apples that children from Parker Elementary School in Houston, TX created and sent after a day in which she educated them about Spondylitis! We had a wonderful location in Times Square and some great press coverage including a television appearance on NY’s WPIX!
What was your favorite moment?
I don’t think I could say I had one favorite moment, but I loved meeting people I had met online through SAA, Facebook, Twitter and my website. I loved the first stroke of the paint brush as much as the last. I loved the experience of being on TV! I loved looking around the busy event and seeing people painting apples because they wanted to help us talk about Spondylitis and raise money for a cure. I loved seeing people creating and making art for a good cause! I was so immensely touched that people joined me in my vision to create apple art as a way of sharing our story and raising awareness. I loved running in the rain through Times Square back to the hotel after dinner to get settled in the room with my family surrounding me as I painted through the night. I loved seeing people enjoy being there to come together for us – for people with a form of Spondylitis – for a day of community and sharing in a positive and joyful way.
How much did you raise?
I am sending a check to the Spondylitis Association of America in the amount of $3750. The Art Poster will be available through the end of 2012 to continue to support SAA as they are sold.
Anything else you’d like to mention/talk about?
The Apple-A-Thon was quite an undertaking and I am so thankful for so much support from SAA and the community. There were many times it seemed overwhelming and too big to do while dealing with AS, but the support was always there and for that I am so grateful and appreciative.
I’d like to thank my friends and family who helped so much including my Aunt Debbie, my parents Bill and Susan Dye, my husband Doug Visscher, Roberta Davis (a friend of my mom’s), my brothers, as well as friends of SAA and fellow advocates Michael Smith, Tom Contrino, Anna West, and Esther Hick.
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