February 23, 2017 - San Francisco, California
The Northern California Young Professionals Group (YPG) of The ALS Association Golden West Chapter hosted a special Art & Wine Benefit at the Fillmore Heritage Center in San Francisco. Participants came to enjoy art and poetry created by people with ALS, network with the community, and take part in a raffle for a chance to win some unique prizes.
Steven Responte, Margaret
Taylor, Blair Fox, and Tim Rooney
YPG Committee Co-chair Tim Rooney first connected with the Golden West Chapter in 2011, after the loss of his father, George. He and his family first participated in the 2011 East Bay Walk to Defeat ALS. Fellow YPG Committee Co-chair Blair Fox lost his mother, Sue, to ALS when he was just nine years old. Witnessing his mother's battle with the disease, coupled with his grandfather, Larry Hudson, who volunteered with the chapter, ignited his passion to find a cure for ALS. Inspired to honor their parents and help find a cure for the disease, Tim and Blair decided that they wanted to do more to help the ALS community. Together they launched the Young Professionals Group in 2014 and have held several events to raise awareness and funds for the ALS community over the past two and a half years. Along with YPG committee members Margaret Taylor and Steven Responte, the group collaborated to create this YPG Art & Wine Benefit.
"I started volunteering in 2016 at the South Bay Walk to Defeat ALS," said Steve Responte. “A good friend of mine is from a family that has many generations who have had ALS, also known as familial ALS (FALS). My friend does not currently have the disease but I want to help suuport the search for treatments and a cure."
"I also started volunterring in 2016, after I lost a close family friend to ALS," said Margaret Taylor. "It was really devastating to see a key person in my life deteriorate and I wanted to help do something so others don't have to experience the same loss."
Paintings by Mike Bougher
"Our goals for this event was first to bring awareness to a group of people who are not as likely to be exposed to ALS," said Margaret. "We also wanted to encourage people to financially support the efforts of the Golden West Chapter."
“We wanted to educate fellow young professionals about the disease and to showcase the amazing things some local artists with ALS are accomplishing,” said Blair.
The show featured the following artists with ALS:
Mike Bougher from Vallejo was diagnosed with ALS in 1998 but he refused to let it affect his life's journey. Mike traveled extensively, explored vast topics such as quantum physics, and developed a deep appreciation for mindful meditation. He also taught himself how to paint on the computer and began creating digital artwork using only his head, and some movement with his shoulder and hand. His paintings contain no photos or scans and each piece required between 8 to 200 hours to complete. Sadly, Mike lost his battle with ALS in 2012 after a 14-year battle with the disease. His surviving spouse, Jen Bougher, graciously arranged for several of his pieces to be shown at the event.
|Poetry by Ryan Farnsworth|
Ryan Farnsworth grew up in Fresno and Monterey, and currently lives in Yountville, California. He studied communications and volunteered as a teacher in India. Ryan was diagnosed with ALS in 2015 at the age of 29 and continues to live his life to the fullest. He has come to see his diagnosis as an opportunity to develop an expanded sense of love, joy, gratitude, and peace. It is from this perspective that he chose to write his first book of poems and inspirational thoughts entitled, “Seeds of Light Sown.” The book is available for purchase on Amazon Smile (www.AmazonSmile.com), where a portion of the proceeds will benefit The ALS Association Golden West Chapter. Eight of Ryan's poems were featured at the event and Ryan also donated several copies to the raffle.
Jim Kimberly was born in Los Angeles California. Initially inspired by his artist grandmother, Jim used this language of expression as a child which developed into a lifelong art career.
Paintings and furniture by Jim Kimberly
Trailer for "Getting Up: The Tempt One Story"
Three years ago, Jim was diagnosed with ALS which has progressively resulted in the near-complete loss of mobility. But this hasn’t stopped Jim from continuing his art career. In spite of these extreme challenges, by attaching a steel "arm" to his wheelchair, he has developed an inventive way to continue his art by creating large scale paintings on canvas. Jim's current body of work transcends any process and is filled with pure expression. He is working on his current series of paintings entitled, "I'M NOT DEAD YET.” You can visit Jim's website to learn more about his artwork. Jim graciously arranged for several of his pieces of art and furniture to be displayed at the event, and donated a painting to the raffle.
Tony Quan, also known as TEMPT ONE, is a Los Angeles-based artist, activist and publisher. In his 25+ year career, he has curated art shows, done commission work for Tribal Gear and Third Rail clothing, mentored youth, spoken at the United Nations, and created an international publication on street and urban art. In 2003, he was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that resulted in his full paralysis. Never one to give up, Tempt collaborated with the Not Impossible Foundation and Graffiti Research Labs to create software called EyeWriter that allows people with paralysis to draw with their eyes. Tony’s life has been featured in an award-winning documentary, GETTING UP: THE TEMPT ONE STORY, and excerpts from the film were shown, courtsey of the Not Impossible Foundation.
The photos and stories of over 30 people with ALS
In addition, the event featured visuals from a unique public awareness campaign created by the Golden West Chapter in 2016. The idea was to present a simple, unified graphic with a photo of a person with ALS, along with the reason that they had inspired someone to participate at our Walk and Ride to Defeat ALS events. The goal to was visually express the interconnected nature of our mission priorities, as well as connect the community with the people facing the disease. In total, over 100 signs were created, featuring the stories of people with ALS and why they and their loved ones were choosing to fight against the disease. The images were also featured on the Chapter's social media channels to encourage people to get involved in the fight against ALS. In January 2017, at the annual National ALS Association Leadership Conference, the Golden West Chapter was honored with the 2017 Innovation Award for the "Story Signs" which support ALS awareness, advocacy, services and research, while also communicating unity of purpose for our mission.
|Guests in conversation at the YPG Art & Wine Benefit
"It was so rewarding, as the room begin to fill, seeing Tim's vision for an art show come to life," said Margaret. "One of the guests was brought to tears by the artists' stories. It really showed how powerful these artists are and how impactful their work is."
“Seeing the work donated by these wonderful artists, along with the 'Why We Ride/Walk' story signs created by the Golden West Chapter, had quite an effect on everyone there,” said Blair. “While not everyone in attendance has a personal connection to ALS, you could definitely feel the strong impact the story behind the artwork had on each person.”
“We are proud to be a part of the Golden West Chapter in serving and advocating for people that live with ALS every day.” said Steve.
“It was quite meaningful meeting a woman whose mother was recently was diagnosed with ALS,” Tim said. “She said the event made her feel less alone, and that there are people really advocating for her family.”
“It changes you when you see the impact of this disease,” said Blair. “I know how hard my mother fought, and as hard as all of these people fought through ALS. Even while it takes your body away, to be able to write poetry as well as Ryan Farnsworth does, or paint as well as Jim Kimberly does, is so inspiring.”
The event was sold out, and raised over $2,500 in support of the mission of the Golden West Chapter. The organizers were pleased to have met their projected goals. You can view the photos and videos or make a gift in support. The YPG committee is brainstorming new and innovative events with The ALS Association Golden West Chapter for this year. If you are interested in participating or learning more about how to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.