Opera Mariposa was founded by sisters Stephanie and Jacqueline Ko (pictured below) who have not let Chronic Fatigue Syndrome get in the way of them realizing their dreams.
Stephanie and Jacqueline know what it means to triumph over adversity. At ages 24 and 22 respectively, they are co-founders of their own arts company, Opera Mariposa. But even more astonishing is the fact that they have achieved their dream despite living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a complex neurological disease with a vast range of debilitating effects.
“It’s hard to explain ME/CFS,” admits Stephanie, Opera Mariposa’s communications director. “But I can tell you that it affects every aspect of your life.”
Cheryl Davies, Vice President, Patient Care Services with Jacqueline Ko, Founder, Opera Mariposa, Jill Pascoe, Program Manager and Edwina Houlihan, Director Patient Care Services
When you look at the symptoms of ME/CFS, it’s not hard to understand why it is so debilitating. Symptoms include physical and mental exhaustion, sleep dysfunction, pain, poor concentration, hypersensitivity to light or sound, impaired regulation of body temperature and recurrent flu-like symptoms. Then there’s post-exertion malaise, the prolonged loss of physical and mental stamina following even routine tasks – effects the sisters know all too well.
Stephanie and Jacqueline started exhibiting symptoms of ME/CFS when they were eight and six respectively, but it took years to get an official diagnosis. The illness took such a toll that neither could complete high school.
Joy in music
Despite the obstacles, Jacqueline started pursuing her love of singing when she was in elementary school – a passion that ultimately led her to become an award-winning opera singer. Interestingly, it was ME/CFS, together with Jacqueline’s love of singing, that inspired the sisters to establish Opera Mariposa. They knew that by building their own company, they could create rehearsal and performance schedules that would suit their unique health needs while allowing them to pursue their dreams.
Grateful for their own success, Jacqueline and Stephanie have used their music to help raise awareness and funds for ME/CFS.
Thank you Jaqueline and Stephanie for generously giving your time and energy to give this incredible donation to support the Complex Chronic Diseases Clinic.