A heartfelt thank you
It was a fundraiser and awareness campaign that Rylee Iott and her family started when she was just six years old. The family felt it was important to educate anyone who might be willing to listen, about Ichthyosis — a condition that Rylee was born with.
Ichthyosis includes a group of skin disorders that can lead to dry, itchy skin. Those with the condition have skin that appears scaly, rough, and red.
Some forms of the disease can affect internal organs as well.
Why it was important they do something — those who didn’t know her or who might have been too reserved to ask, typically assumed that she had a severe sunburn and reacted, at times very judgmentally, as such.
She also always just looked different than her peers.
“I was young and my parents were concerned about bullying. This fundraiser was an easy way to bring awareness to our community,” said Iott.
Seventeen years later, the now 23-year-old has decided the pumpkin painting event, which was held in late October, has run its course.
“This was our last year,” Iott said. “Although we have always received great support from our community, I believe it is time to move on. We started this fundraiser when I was six; I am in a completely different stage of life now. My family and I have talked about ‘replacing’ this fundraiser with another event to keep raising awareness for Ichthyosis.”
The most important thing people should know, she said of the disorder, is that it’s genetic and not a sunburn. It is not something she or anyone else with it will ever grow out of.
“I don’t think I could express enough gratitude to the community I was raised in. Whether we were hosting the pumpkin paint, a softball tournament, or raising funds to hike the Grand Canyon, this town has always been supportive. They’ve allowed me to grow up feeling comfortable in my own skin. I also need to thank Iott’s Greenhouse and Gardens for donating the pumpkins each year. We would not have been able to continue this fundraising for as long as we have without them.”