May Awareness Month 2022

May Awareness Month 2022

This was our biggest fundraising awareness month since the inception of Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes New Zealand in 2018, then known as the Ehlers-Danlos Society New Zealand.

This year EDSNZ held two nationwide fundraising events, our Second Annual Distance Challenge and our first ever Read-A-Thon. As a community, members participated in our online events, as well as support calls from EDSNZ, joined in on zoom calls with Dr. Leslie Russek continuing her Hypermobility 101 Series and took to social media to share awareness materials on a variety of topics created by EDSNZ and used the hashtags #EDSNZMay2022, #MyEDSChallenge and #MyHSDChallenge to get the word out! Our community also supported EDSNZ by buying merchandise including the May 2022 Fundraising Hoodie and other goodies such as reusable Zebra Mugs, phone grips and more found in our shop.

EDSNZ are incredibly proud of our community in all their varying methods of raising awareness this May and thank you to everyone who participated in our event! Read on for more information about this year’s Awareness Efforts!

Second Annual Distance Challenge

Our second annual Distance Challenge kicked off May Awareness Month. Our goal was to see how far our community could travel when we band together, because together we dazzle! We picked routes of varying lengths, with the option to choose your own distance as well as method of achieving your goal – walk, run, swim, ride or roll to your goal was our motto.

We had 8 individuals sign up this year to take the challenge, and 2 teams were created, and they were amazing – as a collective we traveled 716km!

Our participants took some amazing walks through beautiful parts of the country which you can see below, gorgeous beaches, still lakes, incredibly forests, and wonderful open fields, it makes one so feel happy to live in such a beautiful, and diverse, country and you can see some of the incredible photo’s they took on their walks below.

In total our participants raised $3900 to help EDSNZ continue providing support and resources for kiwi’s across the country with EDS. Thank you so much everyone for joining us!

Map of NZ with distance travelled

First Annual Read-A-Thon

We had 3 people sign up to take the challenge, and they were amazing – Books read included Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Chocolat series and  Ayureveda: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Healing and more! Our participants got to lose themselves in fantastic worlds or learn new things all curled up in a nice cosy place while the weather raged on outside.

Screenshot Overview of Read-A-Thon 2022

Thanks to the amazing fundraising efforts of everyone who participated who also raised an incredible $699!


This year we were delighted to bring some fantastic sponsors on board who helped us out with supplying some wonderful prizes for our participants. Thanks to our sponsors for making this an incredible year to remember!

We had some amazing goodies from Spirit Sparkplugs, a store owned by one of our community members. They provided us with a Migraine Mask valued at $90, along with 12 zebra themed masks, zebra earrings, zebra tweezers, zebra pegs, zebra socks, zebra keyrings, zipper pull loops, bottle caps, glasses buttons for face masks, anti-fog glasses wipes, and so much more. Thank Spirit Sparkplugs! We really appreciate your generous donation, and can’t wait to check out what else you have in store!

We also had support from Zespri NZ who generously donated 6 trays of kiwifruit, 2 Shakti Mats from Skakti Mat NZ, a copy of the newly released Getting Lost Accessibility Edition game from Getting Lost NZ and various goodies from EDSNZ.

We had our prize giving early June and you can find a list of the winners, and their prizes, below.

Raising Awareness

EDSNZ decided to go just a bit bigger this year than we did last year, and we themed the entire month with awareness topics specifically for our community!

Week 1 started with the topic of Comorbid conditions that are commonly diagnosed alongside EDS. We touched on the gut, and how many different conditions affecting the gut EDSers are commonly afflicted with such as IBS, Gastroparesis and Reflux (GERD). We also discussed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Mast Cell Syndrome and the various Neurological issues that can be found with EDS. EDSNZ put together a host of infographics that could be shared on social media by the community and finished the week with an online video chat with members of the community about how comorbid conditions affected them.

Week 2 we focused on Knowing Your Rights, specifically those posters we’ve all seen at medical practioner’s offices. Knowing one’s rights can be a confusing topic so infographics were put together to break down what our rights are and explain some of these in further detail. We also put together a resource packet on Knowing Your Rights according the Health and Disability Comission and the UN’s definition. You can explore this topic more in our resources section. Kelly, our president, also put together an incredible presentation for our community in an online video chat about tips for getting the most out of a doctors appointment. This presentation was informative and fun, and included a Q&A session at the end. You can see the presentation here or read more about Getting The Most Out Of Your Doctors Appointment in our resource section.

Week 3 focused on Exercise and Movement and we got helpful advice from Kylie Staples, Podiatrist and owner of Core Clinic, on the best kind of shoes to wear to suit our needs. We were also joined by Dr. Leslie Russek who continued her Hypermobility 101 Sessions with EDSNZ with an open online video chat and presentation on Hypermobility 105 – Posture and Joint Protection. If you missed the video chat, you can rewatch it here, along with any previous sessions you may have missed. Jeannie Di Bon also created a presentation with some fantastic tips about exercise and movement for EDSNZ to share with the community, and generously offered a discount to our community members to her Zebra Club!

Week 4’s topic of discussion was the rarer types of EDS. There are 14 known variants of EDS but only three are commonly talked about – Hypermobile EDS, Classic EDS and Vascular EDS – so EDSNZ shared infographics with the community about what the other types are and the common associated characteristics of those types. We were joined once again by Dr Leslie Russek on the topic of Cervical Instability Part 1, where once again we enjoyed a presentation on the topic as well as an informative Q&A session at the end. If you missed the live video call, you can watch that here. We also dressed up in red for Red for vEDS day to highlight Vascular EDS.

Week 5 lasted only two days, but we focused on resources which can help the community and wound up the month with a Mental Health support call on the 31st of May. There were some interesting questions raised, and some great laughs had by all by the end of the call.

Social Media

EDSNZ created our own hashtag that could be used all over Social Media to promote May Awareness Month #EDSNZMay2022 while Ehlers-Danlos Society created the hashtags #MyEDSChallenge and #MyHSDChallenge. These hashtags were used on Facebook, Lindkdin, Instagram, Tiktok and Fitbit to promote awareness about EDS and how it affects each person individually. Thank you to everyone who took the time to promote not only EDS but also EDSNZ this month. You’ve all done an amazing job.

Prize Giving

2022 saw us host our first every prizegiving. Eligible participants from our two events and social media awareness campaign were entered automatically in the draw to win some fantastic prizes from our sponsors. Below is the results of our prize giving.

Winners – 

Kiwifruit Green from Zespri NZ

  • Rick McZany
  • Emerald Maz
  • Wheely Wives

Kiwifruit Gold from Zespri NZ

  • Hazel Watson-Smith
  • Emma Cochrane
  • Kerry-Anne Turner

Shakti Mat from Shakti Mat NZ

  • Evelyn Philip
  • Lenette Breytenbach

Getting Lost Game from Getting Lost NZ

  • Renee Hodgson

Easy Tie Shoelaces from C1 South

  • Lenette Breytenbach

Migraine Mask from Spirit Sparkplugs

  • Jenny Cosgrove

In addition, each participant in our May Events won a small prize pack consisting of a set of 2 Zebra Striped Masks and 1 set of Glasses Clips for wearing masks from Spirit Sparkplugs, and 1 EDSNZ Phone grip and 1 EDSNZ Lanyard from EDSNZ!

Thank you again to all our participants, we couldn’t have had such a successful May Awareness Month without you all. 

Prizegiving was done via

In total, through our communities’ various efforts to raise funds for EDSNZ we were donated the grand total of $4619! This was more than we ever expected to raise and quite frankly everyone at EDSNZ is grateful and in awe of how our community came together this May to support EDSNZ and help us with our various causes and discuss some interesting topics.

Again, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone for the support and for everyone’s efforts to raise awareness this month, we’re looking forward to next May already!