Tattooing to end Lyme Disease

A Shelton tattoo artist’s close relationship with a friend who has Lyme Disease, inspired her to donate all of the proceeds she collects on Feb. 24 to a fundraiser designed to help raise awareness and find a cure for the disease.

The fundraiser will feature a number of shops that will host an awareness day with artists ranging from contestants on the television show, Ink Masters, to local shops. Every shop involved will donate their contributions collected that day to go toward research for a cure. Each shop will also be hosting its own event and raffling off a motorcycle and gift certificates with funds going towards research.

According to the Center 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. Although people may think of Lyme as an East Coast disease, it is found throughout the United States, as well as in more than 60 other countries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US 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 US.

However, because diagnosing the disease can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. According to the CDC, many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.

An artist’s connection to the disease

Owner of Shelton Tattoo Studio, located on Howe Avenue, Carolyn Hawkins said when she first heard about the Ink to End Lyme Disease fundraiser she felt an emotional connection to the cause that made her obligated to participate.

“It’s troubling that we still haven’t gotten closer to a cure. It’s a terrible disease and there needs to be more information about it out there,” said Hawkins. “A very dear friend of mine has Lyme Disease. She did not get an early diagnosis which they say, if you get an early diagnosis it is a very different disease at that point. She didn’t get that and it’s just a lot of chronic pain and debilitating.”

Hawkins didn’t disclose the name of her friend, but said the pain she feels as a result of the disease has motivated to fight for more awareness.

“It bothers me because she’s a brilliant, amazing woman who helps a lot of people. It saddens me that her and many other people are burdened by the disease so when I was made aware of the cause I knew I had to do it,” said Hawkins. “My hope is that through this event and others like it that we will begin to see a difference.”

Since she began her career as a tattoo artist back in 1998, Hawkins said she has been in her shop at its current location since 2004.

She explained that her love for tattooing began as a passion for illustrating.

“I’ve always loved illustrating and when I first began tattooing I thought it was something I could be good at. I was lucky enough to find someone to let me do an apprenticeship at their shop in West Haven and the rest is history,” said Hawkins. “The previous Co-owner has since retired in another state and sold his share of the business, but when we were working in West Haven together we decided it’d be a good idea to start our own shop and that’s how we ended up right here in Shelton.”

After years of tattooing and creating, Hawkins said the interactions with many different people motivates her.

“I love working with all of the different types of people,” said Hawkins. “Everyone’s individuality assures that every job will be different. It keeps things exciting. Making customers happy is one of the greatest feelings.”
Hawkins is still booking appointments for the day of the fundraiser. To schedule one of the available slots, contact the shop at (203) 924-7300. People can get involved at their local shop or join the cause online on Facebook or through the organization’s website