Get inked for a cause

One Shelton tattoo artist plans to donate the proceeds she collects from her clients on a day in February as part of a fund-raiser designed to help to find a cure for Lyme disease.

The owner of Shelton Tattoo, Carolyn Hawkins, said that when she had the opportunity to help raise money for Lyme disease research for the second year, she couldn’t pass it up.

“This is something I could do where I use my skill to help people, and I know people with Lyme, so I feel even more passionate to help in the way that I know how,” said Hawkins.

The fund-raiser will feature a number of shops that will host an individual awareness day with artists ranging from contestants on the television show Ink Masters to local shops. Every shop involved will donate the contributions collected that day toward research for a cure.

Hawkins said she plans to donate the proceeds she collects on Saturday, Feb. 10, toward the organization that created this fund-raising idea, Lyme Warrior. She said she’s also looking to increase the amount she raises in comparison to her last year total of $200.

“Hopefully, we don’t get snow, because it can make parking outside the shop a nightmare,” said Hawkins. “Either way, there’s just so much more research that needs to be done, like, yesterday.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes, or deer ticks. These ticks are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. The disease is found throughout the United States, as well as in more than 60 other countries.

The CDC estimates that nearly 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States annually. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the United States. The CDC also speculates that the number of people actually living with the disease is much higher because of the difficulty of diagnosing it correctly.

One Lyme Warrior representative said that when she discovered the organization, her life changed for the better.

“When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and co-infections, I started doing a lot of research and wanted to connect with people in the Lyme community,” said Caitlin McElroy, who began working with Lyme Warrior in June 2017. “I came across Lyme Warrior’s Instagram and was really intrigued by what they were doing and how it was all getting done. I had held a personal fund-raiser and donated the proceeds to them even before becoming a volunteer. A few months later they had posted online asking for volunteers, and I jumped at the opportunity.

“It has been the greatest experience ever. It is amazing to see what this group can accomplish, all while being chronically ill.”

McElroy said after working with the organization for less than a year she’s already witnessed the importance of efforts to raise awareness for the disease as well as funds for research.

“Events on awareness are extremely important, for the Lyme community and the general public. Lyme disease is so seldom spoken about and is now at epidemic levels in our country,” said McElroy. “It has become six times as common as HIV or breast cancer, yet is still extremely underfunded. So events like Ink to End Lyme are a great way to spread the word in a different way. With Ink to End Lyme, we get to connect and educate outside the normal channels. We want people to know about Lyme, how they can prevent it so they don’t have to go through what we go through, and how to help us find a cure for the millions currently living with chronic Lyme.”

All the money raised via the Ink to End Lyme fund-raiser is donated to researchers for Lyme treatments. McElroy said after Ink to End Lyme 2017, the organization donated $4,000 to Eva Sapi’s research team at the University of New Haven. This team studies combination antibiotic protocols, herbal options, etc. It also donated $4,000 to an herbalist who discovered most of the herbs that are used in the leading herbal treatment options today.

Those interested in donating to the cause but not looking to get a tattoo, McElroy said, may visit the organization’s website,, and scroll to the bottom of the page.

“Every penny helps!” said McElroy. “Plus, we have some great raffle prizes that will be drawn March 1.”

To stay up to date on events hosted by Lyme Warrior, follow the organization on Facebook at