Get spooked, chilled and thrilled at dysautonomia support group’s haunted house

A ghoul spooks guests at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Zombies, scarecrows and creepy clowns are joining forces this Halloween to help create awareness for a misunderstood and underdiagnosed disease.

A creepy clown spooks guests at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
A creepy clown spooks guests at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

A privately run haunted house at 530 N. 160 West Circle in St George is offering guests a fright-filled tour in exchange for donations to one of two causes on Halloween night, Monday, 7-10 p.m.

Two cans of food to be donated to the Utah Food Bank will grant entry. Guests may also gain admission by offering a monetary donation with proceeds going to a local dysautonomia awareness support group.

Nearly 100 people went through the haunted house on its opening night Friday. The five to seven minute long tour is staffed with over 30 enthusiastic volunteers coaxing screams out of guests.

“Last night people were saying it was the best they had been to,” Tara Eaves said in an email to St. George News Saturday.

Dysautonomia awareness

Eaves, whose daughter suffers from a form of dysautonomia, the disorder called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS, heads the local chapter of a Utah-based dysautonomia awareness support group. Proceeds of the haunted house will go to help spread awareness of the disease.

A zombie spooks guests at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
A zombie spooks guests at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Dysautonomia is an umbrella term for a number of disorders affecting the autonomic nervous system, the system responsible for heart rate and breathing.

Symptoms are debilitating and typically include lightheadedness and fainting, tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate), over-sensitivity to temperatures and exhaustion.

“It’s an illness that most doctors don’t know about. Many of them tell you it’s all in your head,” Eaves said.

Eaves’ daughter was finally diagnosed with the disorder after countless doctor and ER visits could not define her illness.

“Their symptoms can turn on and off. They can be perfectly fine and the next moment they’re down and they can’t breathe,” Eaves said of those suffering from dysautonomia.

Her mission to spread awareness has already borne fruit. She helped call upon Gov. Gary Herbert to declare October Dysautonomia Awareness Month.

A mad man performs ambutations at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
A mad man performs amputations at a haunted house promoting awareness for dysautonomia, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Eaves and her daughter were the subjects of a St. George News article this year describing their family’s struggle with the disease.


Read more: 1 woman, 1 girl talk about their invisible illness: postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome


A reader of the article, Brittany McBride, recognized the symptoms in her own daughter who was later diagnosed with the condition.

McBride is the owner of the home that puts on the yearly haunted house production; she reached out to Eaves and joined the support group.

Eaves said a woman who came to Friday night’s haunted house tour also recognized the conditions of dysautonomia as possibly matching those suffered by her child.

“Awareness is getting out, but not fast enough for those of us that suffer with it,” Eaves said.

The group plans to continue to do as much as it can to spread awareness, including a “Paint Nite” fundraiser Nov. 16 at Ricardo’s Restaurant, 1110 S. Bluff Street, St George.

Event details

  • What: Haunted house charity fundraiser for dysautonomia awareness.
  • When: Monday, Oct. 31, 7-10 p.m.
  • Where: 530 N. 160 West Circle, St. George.
  • Ages: Not recommended for children under the age of 12.
  • Cost: Monetary donation (amount at the discretion of the entrant) or two cans of nonperishable food; proceeds go to Utah Food Bank or Dysautonomia in Southern Utah support group.

Resources

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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