Alyssa Christian, founder of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Foundation of the Cayman Islands, has organized a fashion show – Pretty on the Outside – to bring awareness of the disease to the forefront.

MS Foundation

The foundation was established in October 2016 after Christian was diagnosed with MS. It was then that she realized how many people in Cayman also suffer from the disease. She felt compelled to become proactive and provide financial and emotional support to MS patients and their families.

The Pretty on the Outside event is the official launch of the foundation, and it doubles as its first fundraiser. It will be held on March 11 from 6-10 p.m. at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands and features a fashion show with handbags and clutches from Louise & Eleanor, a U.S.-based company.

“We are honored to have the bags modeled by the 2017 Miss Cayman Islands contestants,” says Ms. Christian.

Ms. Christian, along with Louise & Eleanor, has created a clutch specifically for MS called The Hope Bag. This bag will be launched at the end of the fashion show.

Men will also have a fashion accessory created just for them.

“While MS affects more women than men, we certainly didn’t want to exclude the men,” says Christian. “Working alongside Barry Beaux, a bow tie has been created to match The Hope Bag.”

A silent auction of the bags and bow ties, along with a variety of other auction items, will be held after the fashion show.

Pretty on the Outside

“Most of the time you are not able to spot a person with MS,” says Christian. “MS is known as an invisible disease. Although most patients look ‘good’ on the outside, the inside of their bodies are a disaster and are a battlefield.

“Now, think about a woman’s handbag. We women are always admiring each other’s handbags with envy, but just like a person with MS, from the outside they look immaculate, but once you open them up … they are a force to be reckoned with.”

Multiple Sclerosis

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the prevalence of MS can only be estimated because symptoms can be invisible, such as fatigue, pain, cognitive problems, weakness, numbness, tingling, blurred vision and heat sensitivity, among many others.

The society says that many MS experts believe it is an autoimmune disease – in which the immune system reacts to normally occurring antigens as if they were foreign – although that is still debated in the scientific community.

“The cause of MS is still unknown. Scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond,” the society says.

Diagnosis typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 50, and two to three times more women than men are diagnosed with the disease.

Multiple sclerosis is called the “snowflake disease” because no two people who have it experience it the same way.

For Ms. Christian, it started with a “crazy, blurry spot” in her eye. She just couldn’t see properly. Later, she began to experience pain and numbness throughout her body. Finally, after three-and-a-half years of trying to pinpoint what was causing her symptoms, visiting several doctors in the Cayman Islands and in the United States, the diagnosis came last August.

Tickets for Pretty on the Outside are $100 per person and include a welcome beverage, canapés, a cash bar, the fashion show and a silent auction.

To buy tickets, visit caymangiftcertificates.com/pretty-on-the-outside. For more info on the MS Foundation of the Cayman Islands, visit on Facebook: www.facebook.com/msfcayman.

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