LymeLight: The story of pro freeskier Angeli VanLaanen living with Lyme Disease
From NEU PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo:
“LymeLight is a Lyme Disease awareness film that serves as an inspirational story for those who have fought to overcome chronic illness and physical setbacks. It delivers a powerful message of the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle on a daily basis.
Angeli VanLaanen is one of the top female freeskiers in the world and a well rounded athlete with expertise in all areas of her sport. She has been featured on the cover of Skiing Magazine and in renowned skiing publications such as Powder Magazine and Freeskier Magazine. Angeli has also competed in high level halfpipe events such as the X-Games and Dew Tour.
LymeLight is a 30 minute documentary film based on Angeli VanLaanen’s battle with Lyme Disease. Angeli, now 27 years old, started showing Lyme symptoms at the tender age of 10. After developing a chronic sinus infection, fainting spells, dyslexia and fatigue, Angeli faced over a decade of misdiagnoses. Through the years, her symptoms fluctuated and progressed into a debilitating chronic illness. In the summer of 2009 VanLaanen was sleeping for multiple days at a time and experiencing crippling body pain. Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected Black Legged Tick (commonly known as a Deer Tick). Many children and adults cannot recall a bite because young Deer Ticks can be as small as a poppyseed. If caught promptly, Lyme Disease can be treated in a matter of weeks. Angeli’s story of misdiagnosis is all too common due to the lack of knowledge in our society and in the medical community.
After her diagnosis in November 2009, VanLaanen was forced to put her competitive halfpipe career on hold at the peak of her career. ‘It’s the lowest I’ve ever felt,’ Angeli says. ‘With no guarantee that treatment would relieve my symptoms, I had very little to hold on to.’ Motivated by her struggle, Angeli linked up with Director John Roderick of Neu Productions in November of 2011 to make an awareness piece sharing a raw account of her experience. ‘Our goal with LymeLight is to educate people about Lyme Disease, where it comes from, what the symptoms are and the challenges people face reclaiming their health,’ says Roderick. Neu Productions is a diverse action sports and adventure production company based in Breckenridge, Colorado, producing powerful digital content.
After taking 3 years off from halfpipe for Lyme treatment, Angeli returned to competition and placed 6th at the FIS World Championships and is ranked 9th in the world on the AFP points list for the 2012-2013 season. Halfpipe skiing was recently added to the list of events to premier at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia 2014. VanLaanen’s dream of becoming an Olympian is possible now that she is symptom free and in remission. After the Olympics next year, Angeli plans to tour LymeLight in schools around the country as a part of an awareness program she has created. ‘When I was young I just flicked ticks off of me.’ Angeli recalls ‘I didn’t know to tell my mom or doctor.’ With the help of the LymeLight Foundation, a nonprofit VanLaanen is a spokesperson for, she will educate kids about Lyme Disease prevention and overcoming hard times.”
About the author:
Henrik Lampert loves hot dogs, backflips, the Boston Bruins and Norway. Twenty-seven years old and a Massachusetts native, he's the Editor of Freeskier Magazine and Freeskier.com—a proud staffer since 2010.