Dazzle Day for VEDS

Image courtesy of Custom Ink

Image courtesy of Custom Ink

Tavishi Chattopadhyay, Staff Writer

Catherine Herbes, a West Morris Mendham sophomore, is proposing a Reds4VEDS Day where students can wear red or zebra stripes as a demonstration of support for those with Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (VEDS).

VEDS is a genetic disorder that affects body connective tissue, primarily in the skin, lungs, and blood vessels. Connective tissue plays a critical role in development and body growth, which are therefore hindered by this disorder. VEDS is caused by a mutation in the COL3AI gene and can either be inherited or acquired spontaneously, meaning that neither parent has it but the child does. People diagnosed with VEDS can bruise easily and might display recognizable features such as thin skin and tissue fragility. This bruising can be fatal for people with VEDS, as it can cause complications with their blood vessels. There are an estimated 6,000-8,000 individuals with VEDs in the US– or 1 in 40,000-50,000.

Catherine is proposing a day of schoolwide awareness, largely inspired by Annabelle’s Challenge. Annabelle’s Challenge is a foundation that raises money and awareness for VEDS/EDS research. REDS4VEDS was later endorsed by many other foundations and movements. Catherine proposed this day to raise awareness for a disease that she herself must deal with every day. “Although there have been recent advancements in terms of the research done… It is a very serious illness and people that have it can have very fatal complications starting between the ages of 11 and 20.” She believes students should be able to get involved with important causes such as this, and it is the responsibility of both the school and the student to promotes them. When asked if there were any experiences that Catherine had faced that demonstrated the lack of awareness for VEDS, Catherine described how she has had to travel across multiple states to find a doctor that specializes in VEDS treatment and how she’s always had to explain to school nurses and other school officials her condition. She also remarked on the lack of understanding surrounding the struggles involved with VEDS. Catherine hopes that, through this day, Mendham students will become more familiar with this disorder and seek other ways to support both the cause in general and fellow peers who may face it– as well as show solidarity through wearing red!