Hawg Back Saloon!!!

In case you didn't already know, I have several friends and clients who have MS (multiple sclerosis). Most have remitting relapsing, which is a fancy of way saying some days they are completely normal and other days - life gets put on hold. Robbing them of day to day activities by causing muscle spasms, seizures and other kinds of unpleasantness.

Then there's my friend Jackie, hers is different. She has secondary progressive MS which means instead of the occasional bad day, she has the occasional good day. At least that's the short version. I've known J since 6th grade - we go way back! We missed out on just over 10 years of each others lives but whenever we'd run into each other, we'd pick right back up where we left off. Then we ran in to each other at a get together at a local dive bar and suddenly my vibrant, life of the party friend was using arm crutches! I'm not a stranger to the arm crutches, my best friend uses them once in awhile thanks to CP. Seeing J with them, that was a surprise though! This is the girl who was my "flying partner" - we were the girls the rest of our spirit squad would toss around on the football field...

She was diagnosed with MS and it progressed. You see there's no cure for MS, just drugs that attempt to keep it from progressing. The meds didn't work on J... The National MS Society and countless doctors, nurses and patients are working on that but that takes money. LOTS of money!

J formed Team Hope and over the years the presence at the MS Walk (first Saturday in May - mark your calendars!) grew and grew. Team Hope is now the largest group at the walk each year and each year the bar raises to earn money. Money for a cure, money to slow the progression, money for medications, money for specialized equipment and anything else those with MS may need.

Recently J was a part of a new research medication and suddenly she was getting her life back! She still had MS and still had issues but the seizures came less and less. She was using a cane vs a walker for daily life and she was a different person. Not herself, but close. A NEW herself and life was good. Sadly the research came to a screeching halt within the past few weeks. We're not sure how long she'll be her new self but "one day at a time" is a good philosophy right now.

In J's world, a new self means looking for a new adrenaline rush, a new sport, a new activity. Which is awesome! Her new fun pastime? ROLLER DERBY! Now she's not the jammer or the blocker and really she's rarely on the rink itself, instead she's Babydoll. The Denver Roller Dolls (DRD for short) mascot and she loves every second of it. On a good day - you'll find her wearing skates and using her walker (and sometimes her wheelchair) visiting with fans and instilling confidence in young girls who want to grow up to become strong amazing women, just like J.

DRD has been wonderful to J and for J. You'll find girls going by the name of Granny, Gator and Thunda (just to name a few) by her side at the MS Walk, derby bouts and even throwing fundraisers for Team Hope. The Hawg Back Saloon  happens to be owned by Granny and they hosted a "Christmas in July" fundraiser for Team Hope this weekend! There were body painters, bands, booths and raffles - all in J's honor! It was awesome to be a part of it.........

There were friends to be found...

See that guy with the GIANT lens? That's Shutter Up - the official photog for DRD and he does an awesome job at it! We even got to shoot together for an impromptu Santa's Helper mini session (more on that in a second)

A whole lot of body painting going on...

And even Santa's Helper was on hand (body painting done by the so very talented Sofia Rose - if you ever need a body painter, she's your girl!). This was one night I was kicking myself for NOT bringing everything in my camera bag! When you're asked to do a quick session with the gal covered in body paint - you really want more than just a 24mm lens and your backup camera body! lol

*If you missed out on the fun time at Hawg Back Saloon but would still like to donate to Team Hope, just click on the Team Hope link up above*

Sands of Time Photos. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.