St. Clair boutique to host fundraising event raising money for multiple sclerosis

Next week, Amunni Boutique in downtown St Clair will be hosting Shine the Spotlight to Fight MS, a fundraising event aiming to raise money to combat multiple sclerosis. For the boutique’s owner, the cause is one she cares deeply about.

Multiple sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing temporary or long-term symptoms such as numbness, fatigue, memory issues, mood changes, blindness, and/or paralysis. Currently, the exact cause of the condition is unknown.

10% of all sales on Thursday, June 23, the day of the event will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) Michigan Chapter. In years past, an annual multiple sclerosis walk has been held during Memorial Day weekend in St. Clair but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thought let’s do something, have a do-it-yourself fundraiser. What a better way to have fun, to get women together to shop,” says Ann Marie Oldford, owner of the boutique which offers women’s clothing and accessories.

MS advocate and close friend of Oldford, Heather Benson will be attending the event and available to answer any questions about MS. Benson was diagnosed with the disease just over 16 years ago while her and Benson’s children were in kindergarten.

“At that time there were only 3 therapy treatments available for MS. Now, there are over 23,” Benson says.

Experiencing dizzy spells, migraine headaches, vertigo, and bladder issues, Benson’s symptoms began to appear right after her first son was born.

“At first I was thought to be postpartum, then I was misdiagnosed with interstitial cystitis, '' she says. “After having numbness on the right side of my face my primary doctor ordered an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] then came my multiple sclerosis diagnosis.”

Now, Benson speaks all over the country sharing her story to spread hope, encourage others to seek an early diagnosis, and direct them to resources that are available.

“The key to getting on the right treatment is early diagnosis,” she says. “I call this the snowflake disease because no two people's symptoms are alike. You know your body. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out.”

The NMSS offers opportunities for families, loved ones, healthcare providers, volunteers, donors, and all those that seek a world free of MS, to gather and connect. The organization’s mission is to stop the progression of the disease, restore function, and find a cure.

“We make progress with people sharing their stories,” says Tammy Willis, President of the NMSS Michigan Chapter. “Our goal is to get you the resources you need whether it be medication, finding the right treatment, a neurologist in your area, or even a ride to an appointment.”

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the St. Clair Riverview Plaza with live music by Brian Pavlov in the courtyard. Makeup artist consultant Charlotte Tilbury will also be offering mini-makeovers from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information about the upcoming event or to stay up to date on new offerings at the boutique, visit amunniboutique.com or facebook.com/amunniboutique.

Read more articles by Andrea Harrington.

Andrea Harrington has been a freelance writer for The Keel for many years and enjoys telling stories about the people and communities across the Blue Water Area. In addition to her work with The Keel, she also substitute teaches for East China and Algonac School Districts and offers creative marketing content working one-on-one with local businesses. She loves everything fall-related and in her free time, is an avid watcher of horror movies and enjoys spending time with her husband and Italian greyhound, Marchello. Contact Andrea at harringtonandrea40@gmail.com.