“Wind in her Sails” A stageplay-fundraiser for Multiple System Atrophy research

The Cause

With wind in her sails, a local author will use the theatre to create awareness and raise funds for research in the disease from which she suffers. Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare and terminal neurological movement disorder, is little known and involves an accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain causing neurons to stop working. It is frequently misdiagnosed in its earlier stages as Parkinson’s disease with which it shares some features. The playwright, Elizabeth Bowering was recently diagnosed with MSA for which there is no successful treatment. Research in the area has been very limited due to a lack of funding.

Our goal is to change that by raising research dollars through the run of one of Elizabeth's stage plays. The play, “Wind in her Sails” was first performed at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2006 where it was well received: “<em>A warm-hearted tribute with fine performances</em>”, The Edmonton Journal.“<em>Sparkling Newfoundland wit…good story, good music</em>”, The Edmonton Sun

Set on a schooner in 1907 Newfoundland, “Wind in her Sails” is based on the inspirational true story of her grandmother who, at the age of 16, saved the lives of those on board the vessel when it met with peril at sea during a severe storm. The play will run for 8 to 10 shows at the PCL studio in Edmonton between November 9 and 22, 2015 and proceeds will go to research in MSA.

This research support will be directly earmarked for clinical trials in new ways of diagnostic imaging for the disease.
This project is a unique blend of health care, education and theatre arts.

Who Will it Benefit?

Elizabeth accepts that research done now will most likely not be of benefit to her at her stage of this fatal illness. However, advances in earlier diagnosis and treatment are desperately needed for others who develop this devastating disease. There is no MSA equivalent to the “ice bucket challenge” which has been so successful in raising attention and funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). There is little in the way of support groups for MSA patients who over time lose most of their basic nerve functions, incapacitating them in every way.

We are passionate about creating awareness of MSA and this passion is supported by the nationally based MSA Coalition and Parkinson’s Alberta. Similar to the experience with ALS, everyone can benefit from being educated in this disease. Likewise everyone can benefit from seeing this inspirational, historical, Canadian stage play. The 16 year old heroine was courageous and brave and possessed the qualities we would like to instill in young people today. MSA patients have to exhibit this kind of courage every day.

We anticipate local print and media coverage of this production and our goal of awareness will also be met through your support of our endeavour. At a minimum, over 600 people attending and working on this project will know about MSA and share the information amongst their networks. All theatre goers will be given a purple ribbon to wear, the colour ribbon chosen by the nationally based MSA coalition to raise awareness.