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Q&A: Jacqueline Valdez

Fun Night for a Good Cause

Jacqueline Valdez hosted a dance fundraiser earlier this fall to honor her mother, Angelina Marie Valdez, who passed away in 2011 from scleroderma. Jacqueline’s event was held at her Gainesville, Fla., dance and fitness studio, and has already raised nearly $1,000 for scleroderma research. We had the chance to talk with Jacqueline about this important fundraising event, her mother’s lasting influence and more...

jacqui-mom.jpgQ: When did you first hear the word "scleroderma"?

JV: I remember as a child hearing the word “scleroderma” around the house, but I never really quite understood what it meant or what it was until I got a lot older. My mother always hid her pain and her struggles until her last year. Growing up, I do remember her hospital visits, but I always thought it was just bronchitis, not the disease affecting her. 

Q: Tell us about your mother and what she meant to you.

JV: My mother was incredible. She was strong, kind hearted and patient; a gentle soul, soft spoken and a generous lady. She was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

She influenced me to treat others with kindness, forgiveness and patience. She ran her own business – a beauty salon – in  Denver called “Jackie’s Beauty Salon,” which was named after me. That’s another example of how much she loved me. Her business sense influenced me to run my own business.

She was my biggest inspiration and my best friend. She was the best mother I could ever have asked for; the kind of mother many dream of having. She gave me everything I ever wanted and needed. She was my favorite person to spend my days with. It has been very lonely and hard without her. I miss her every day. 

Q: Why did you want to host a fundraiser to help fund scleroderma research?

JV: My mother was involved in the scleroderma support group in Denver. As a child, I remember that she was always participating in walks and charity events.  After we moved to Florida, my mother was in charge of the support group here in Gainesville, where, sadly, there are never any walks or benefits. Watching her participate and host events was a huge influence on me.

Watching my mother struggle with the disease for 40 years made me want to do something. I do not want others to go through what we had to go through. If we knew more about the disease, she might have suffered less. If I could help just one person, I know it would make my mother very happy and proud.

IMG_3074.JPG Jacqueline (right) at the fundraising event in Gainesville.

Q: How did you select a dance fundraiser as your event idea?

JV: There were a few reasons why I chose dance as my event. My mother used to tap dance and had a huge appreciation for the arts. She encouraged me to embrace my talents as a dancer and dance teacher. She was my biggest supporter.  She loved watching me perform more than anything. It always put a smile on her face.

Dance has meant so much to me. I wanted to share the hard work of my students and friends with the community of Gainesville, and to have dancing and singing to celebrate my mother’s life and help raise money for the Scleroderma Foundation.

Q: What advice would you give to others who are considering holding an event to benefit scleroderma awareness?

_DSC1134.jpg The Scleroderma Foundation can provide you with handouts about the disease and other supporting materials for your fundraising event.

JV: My advice is… to do it! So many people in the Gainesville community are educated now about the disease.

Also, contact the Scleroderma Foundation. They were wonderful, helping out from the website donation page, to giving us items to give away at event, such as information to hand out to educate others about the disease.

The more people hear about scleroderma, hopefully the more benefits, walks and charity events will start to take place, one city at a time.

Q: [Fill in the blank] Scleroderma is _________.

JV: Scleroderma is a disgusting, unpredictable and ugly disease. Not enough is known about it. Scleroderma took away the most important person in my life. Scleroderma attacks some of the most inspiring and strongest women I have ever known. 

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

JV: My mother was a strong and amazing lady. She even gave her remains to science to help others in the future. Even in death, she thought of others. Through the struggles, my mother kept her faith and positive attitude towards life. The disease did not make her who she was. I hope someday to be just as amazing a woman as she was. I loved my mother very much. I know she with the angels above, looking on and smiling down at me. I am happy she is no longer suffering, but she is missed by everyone she ever touched. She will not be forgotten. 


Start your own event to help raise funds that help the scleroderma community. Visit our website at www.scleroderma/hoperaisers to get started today!


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