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May. 20, 2019 | Monday
Local News
Wonder Duck helps send children with skin disease to U.S. camp
Anna D’Amore, owner of Truvi Beauty and Wonder Duck retailer. (Brittany Carter/NIagara Now)

One NOTL family is dedicated to bringing awareness to and raising money for children with skin diseases – sending Canadian children to camp.

Together with her daughters, Niagara-on-the-Lake resident and business owner, Anna D’Amore, is giving back to the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation.

D’Amore says it was time to do something for others after being in business for 27 years. Now, through the sale of the Wonder Duck at her studio, Truvi Beauty Bar in Niagara Falls, she is raising money for Canadian kids to attend Camp Wonder in California, all expenses paid.

After building her brand and business in the skin care industry, she says she can now extend her reach, helping kids who really need it.

The beauty business focuses on people’s vanity and desire to look good. For children with skin diseases, life is very different.

“Some of these kids, they think, ‘Hey, I’m not heavily peeling today’, or ‘I’m still alive.’ It really puts things in perspective.”

The Children’s Skin Disease Foundation was started on June 3, 2000, after Francesca Tenconi, from California, who was diagnosed with a rare skin disease called pemphigus foliaceus at 11, made a wish on her 16th birthday to create an organization for children facing similar challenges.

She wanted to create a community for other children with skin diseases after experiencing the isolation of living with her condition. The foundation operates Camp Wonder for eligible children between six and 16 years old who are living with skin disease. The Wonder Duck is the official Camp Wonder mascot, sold to raise money to fund the cost of the week-long getaway.

The camp, run by a team of medically trained staff, is a place for kids with skin disease to “just be kids for a week,” D’Amore says. It provides a safe space for kids who deal with judgement and insecurities about their conditions throughout the year.

D’Amore says she met the Tenconi family through the skin-care industry and has been a friend of the family for years. In 2016, she officially became a retailer of the “plush pal with a purpose,” selling 60 ducks to date. 

“Her (Francesca’s) situation really hit home. The foundation was formed because of her request for her 16th birthday. I mean, how does that not hit you. This is something she wants to share with all of these other kids.”

By helping Wonder Duck “migrate:” to new homes, D’Amore says the sale of each duck goes directly to funding the about $3,000 (U.S.) needed to send each Canadian child to Camp Wonder.

D’Amore’s daughters haven’t fallen too far from the giving tree. Inspired by their mother’s desire to raise money for the foundation, her girls, Bianca, 16, and Briana, 11, created their own line of clean handcrafted soap called B&B Beauty. They donate a portion of the proceeds to the non-profit organization.

“My two children sat with my husband, Tony, and I and said that they wanted to do something, too, to help the foundation, aside from talking about the ducks.”

Following their mother’s lead in skin care, the girls asked to learn to make their own line of clean soap.

“Something that’s clean and people who have eczema or something would be able to use. So, it’s olive oil and coconut oil and essential oils, nothing with nuts or anything that’s going to make anyone sensitive.”

“They are working on making a few dollars on their first batch to make enough money to purchase makeup totes with goodies also for the boys to send to the camp this year. The camp has a prom for the teens at the end of June.”

D’Amore says the family and business will continue to support the foundation. She is actively looking for more ways to get involved and she says she wants to expand the sale of the duck as much as possible.

Besides raising money, D’Amore wants to raise awareness.

Through the plush ducks, she says she’s hoping she can spread the story further to create an environment for anyone with skin diseases to feel comfortable and accepted.

“People spread the message by buying the ducks, and then sharing it. And then when you gift the duck, or the duck is at home and people see it, you tell the story because you get all the information that goes with it. That’s how it spreads. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

D’Amore says she has almost raised enough money to send one Canadian child. This year, Camp Wonder will take place from June 16 to 22.

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