Art from the heart and the power of chocolate

In 1999, Christy Sloan was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Discovering that no viable long-term treatment existed, she and her parents decided to establish their own nonprofit organization to increase funding for promising new research and treatments.

Their group, the ALS Race for Research Foundation, will be hosting Art from the Heart, a fundraising and educational event, on Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, in Asheville.

Friday will feature an educational seminar titled, “Strategies for ALS,” at MAHEC (501 Biltmore Ave., Classroom 2), presented by Jamie Heywood of the ALS Therapy Development Foundation. The seminar, which is designed for patients and their loved ones, medical professionals and professional caregivers, provides background on the biology and effects of ALS, and highlights the current and innovative research on finding treatments and a cure.

Saturday’s events include an art exhibit and silent auction at the DoubleTree Biltmore Hotel (115 Hendersonville Road) in the Galleria. Featuring more than 100 works of fine art and crafts by more than 25 artists, bidding closes at 4 p.m. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the ALS Race for Research Foundation.

Beginning at 2 p.m., there will be artists’ presentations by Angelo Sciulli (ALS patient, nature artist and author of Challenging Nature Photography) and Chase Pickering (a local nature photographer). Live music will be provided by the Appalachian Brass Quintet.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a disease that progressively degenerates nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Christy, a banking executive and an accomplished equestrian, skier and water sports enthusiast, was diagnosed at age 30 — fairly typical for ALS sufferers. She succumbed to the disease on Sept. 19, 2004.

All activities are open to the public and free of charge.

Reservations are recommended for the seminar and can be made by calling Susan Maultsby at (828) 337-2828 or Julie Cooley at (828) 553-1116 or (828) 883-5833.

— Cecil Bothwell

Chocolate fundraiser for Helpmate

Helpmate, a Buncombe County nonprofit agency that provides crisis-level services specifically for survivors of domestic violence, is getting a boost from The Chocolate Fetish, Asheville’s award-winning chocolate shop.

Just in time for Mothers Day, The Chocolate Fetish is introducing a special box of chocolates adorned with a purple ribbon to signify domestic-violence awareness. In addition to candy, the box will be filled with information about Helpmate’s services. Proceeds from the sale of each box go to supporting survivors of domestic violence in Buncombe County.

“We approached Sue Foley, owner of The Chocolate Fetish, with this idea and she was so interested in building awareness in our community about domestic- and intimate-partner violence she generously committed to an ongoing year-round program,” says Helpmate Executive Director Valerie Collins. “It’s a delicious way to let people know about Helpmate.”

The Chocolate Fetish, a locally owned business, has been voted the areas’ best chocolate shop for eight consecutive years and has been supplying chocolate lovers with handmade American and European gourmet chocolates since 1986.

The Chocolate Fetish (258-2353) is at 36 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville. For more info about Helpmate, call the office line at 254-2968; Helpmate’s crisis line is 254-0516.

— Cecil Bothwell

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