For the past nine years, Anna, a wonderful ME/CFS advocate, has been hosting a unique event. Entitled “Tea Party for ME,” this special virtual day brings an international network of people affected by ME/CFS together. As part of OMFCA’s May Momentum campaign, we are excited to share this opportunity for the community to connect and fundraise in support of urgently needed ME/CFS research.
Anna explains, “I’m hosting my “Blue Sunday: Tea Party For ME” for people with ME/CFS, their family and friends. I strongly believe that we need and deserve a dedicated day of fundraising, but also a day where we can come together to mark and celebrate our resilience and strength in the face of this cruel and life-altering disease.”
This year’s 2021 event will take place on May 16. You can donate, learn more, or join in, by visiting Anna’s OMF fundraising event page. The proceeds raised will support the May Momentum campaign!
We are honored to share an interview with Anna in anticipation of this unique virtual event.
How long have you had ME/CFS?
Ten years. The onset of my ME/CFS was very sudden. One week I was a history graduate preparing for interviews, and the next I was in a makeshift bedroom in my parent’s dining room as I was too unwell to use the stairs, or get to the bathroom without help. In my decade with ME/CFS I have been so lucky to see progress, which to me has been momentous, but to an outsider might not look like progress at all.
What first inspired you to create Tea Party For ME?
I wanted to feel a part of something after years of isolation and being on the outskirts of so much of life. For my birthday in November 2012, I was too unwell for visitors so I had a virtual party where friends posted photos of them toasting me with tea and cake.
That virtual birthday party became the inspiration for the first Tea Party For ME the following May. As people with ME, there is so much that is now out of our reach. I wanted the fundraiser to include those who are so often left out. “Blue Sunday” is now something that so many people look forward to each year. I have also found tea and cake to be a very good way to engage those outside of the ME community!
What helps you remain hopeful and optimistic despite battling ME/CFS?
Knowing there are individuals and organizations like OMF who are fighting for us, who believe us, and are working tirelessly on our behalf.
Have you been able to connect with the community and a lot of new friends through Tea Party For ME?
Yes! Although it’s hard to think that others are experiencing ME/CFS, it has been the ultimate silver lining to find people online who can relate and understand. I mostly socialize online now due to my health.
Each year more and more people hear about the Tea Party For ME and so there are new faces and new friendships made by me and others who join in. Those who are able, sometimes meet up in person on “Blue Sunday” (the day of the tea party) for the first time after years of online friendship and support.
How did you first hear about OMF?
Through social media. OMF Ambassador Jennie Jacques joined last year’s Tea Party For ME event, and I’ve had the honor of being asked to judge the Bake For ME/CFS Challenge.
What do you most hope to accomplish with this year’s Tea Party For ME event?
I hope this event can break up some of the isolation for people with ME/CFS. I also hope it can show people with ME/CFS that there are organizations like OMF working tirelessly to help and support us. I find ME Awareness week can feel a little heavy at times seeing so much suffering and hearing that so many people are affected.
“I hope this event can be a lighthearted way to bring the community together to raise a cup and saucer to their inner strength and their tenacity in the face of ME/CFS.”
OMF sends our heartfelt gratitude to Anna. Not only is she raising funds to accelerate urgently needed research, but she is inspiring advocacy, strengthening the community, and spreading hope.