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May 04, 2009 - Lupus Foundation of Colorado

What: Vines of Hope

Where: Vines Wine Bar, Parker, Colorado

When: Monday, May 4, 2009

Time: 5:30 pm - 8:30 p.m.

Ticket Prices: 1 ticket $50; 2 ticket $90

Beneficiary: The Lupus Foundation of Colorado Medical Research

Host(s): Vines Wine Bar

Mistress of Ceremonies: Carol Wright, Chairman of the Board, Colorado Lupus Foundation

Gala Chairperson(s): Kim Ahern-Wills

Executive Director: Skip Schlenk, CEO of Colorado Lupus Foundation

Staff: Skip Schlenk, CEO, Debbie Lynch, Director of Development and Adminstration, Gayna Warren, office manager

Speaker: Deirdre Hardin

Libations: Wine

Catering: Vines Wine Bar

Entertainment: Keith Wren

Music: Guitar solo with acoustics and percussion

Sponsors: Skip Schlenk, Celtic House Pub, Debbie Lynch, Crate & Barrel, Mary Kay Cosmetics, eBags, Magnolia Hotel, Denver Center for Performing Arts, Pallette People Art School, Patrick Sola Portraiture, Dick's Sporting Goods, Penelope Prett, Greenwood Acupuncture, Inverness Spa, Maggiano's Restaurant, Doubletree Hotel, Summit Steak House, Comedy Works, Ryan Howard, Tony Diaz, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, PK Buys Photography, Vines - Lee and Shari Riggs, Niarah3d - Deirdra Hardin.

Auctioneer: Dan Wills

Quote of the evening: "I attribute Lupus for helping me live." Deirdre Hardin, speaker for the evening

Menu: Vegetable spring rolls, chicken cordon Bleu balls, parmesean cheese salad, assorted crackers, hot spicy crab dip

Attendance: 100 +

Attire: business casual

Special Thanks: Lee and Shari Riggs, owners of Vines

Event Coordinator: Kim Ahern-Wills, Chairman of Vines of Hope, 1st Annual event fund raiser

Board of Directors: Skip Schenk, CEO; Mike Kavanagh, Carol Wright, Chairman of the Board; Debbie Lynch, Director of Development; Howard Hall; Tracy Williams, Board member; Ruthann Kerschman; Peg Gibson;

Blacktie Photos by: Jan McNutt

The Lupus Foundation of Colorado held their first annual fund-raising event, Vines of Hope, at the appropriately named Vines Wine Bar on Main Street in Parker, Monday, May 4, 2009. The early evening event was organized and co-ordinated by Kim Ahern-Wills, Chairman of the "Vines of Hope." Ahern-Wills knows full well the importance for continued research into lupus. She was diagnosed with lupus in 2000. Her doctors spent years in befuddlement over her chronic illness which they could not pin-point.

A difficult diagnosis seems to be the common thread for identifying lupus. Before the illness can be identified it continuously disrupts a healthy person's immune system to the point the person seeks medical help. Unfortunately in most cases, by the time lupus has been earmarked as the culprit, it has already caused heart and nerve damage. It is a mysterious and hard to detect disease regardless of age. Once the disease has been identified and maintained, it is a daily struggle for those with lupus to feel well. As many of those living with lupus at the event will tell you with a smile, "Today was a good day."

A good day or a bad day, sufferers are learning to live with the disease as more and more research is done. Deirdre Hardin was diagnosed with SLE, (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) in 2002, after suffering a series of strokes which left her bedridden for months. She was at the 'Vines of Hope' to speak encouragement and cheer others on who are suffering with the disease. Today, Deirdre has turned her pain into purpose by creating art inspired by living with lupus. In her case, she was in the hospital when her 'angel' walked in and told another doctor, "Check this patient for lupus. I have seen this in Africa." Indeed, that suspicion proved correct. Hardin calls herself lucky. She credits the disease with giving her a new life. The series of strokes she suffered resulted in her re-learning how to walk, talk and write. This meant that she could no longer continue working as an art teacher. Though her life changes were difficult, Hardin lived through the worst of lupus and admits it taught her to enjoy the little things in life. With her mother by her side Hardin says she is grateful for where she is today and for the quality of life she is able to enjoy - even while her body still has lupus.

The 100+ people were there in support of the lupus foundation because each had been touched by the disease. Ahern-Wills herded in her large likely crowd that could easily be called FOK (friends of Kim). Because of the length of time it took to diagnose her lupus, Kim met many friends along the way. They were there to support her then, and on May 4, 2009, including her husband and parents. The wine flowed and the food satisfied even the pickiest of eaters. Delectable morsels of small foods were perfectly prepared and plentiful for the guests. Vines has an inviting setting for casting a darkly rich and tasteful ambiance through out its space. If it hadn't been for the lupus disease focus, the crowd looked every bit the after work, happy hour bunch who regularly stop in for a glass of wine and good company. The live auction was led by Dan Wills, husband of Kim, who did an excellent job showcasing the items and digging for higher bids. The most luxurious, sought after auction item was the weekend for two at the Millinium Hotel, New York City. The bidding was fast and furious. It was a bargain loaded with lots of extras such as a car, a credit card, theater tickets and dinner for two.

The evening was a success for the Lupus Foundation. Next year, at the 2nd annual event, expect to hear more good news about inroads into a cure for lupus.

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