8 years ago, Emily Lyons lost her beloved sister, Julia Lyons, to Cystic Fibrosis. Heartbroken that Julia’s time to light up the world with her unparalleled spirit was cut short, Emily vowed she would keep her sisters’ spirit alive. In a nod to the timelessness of her love for Julia, Emily launched JWLS in 2017, a fashionable watch brand in her honour. The proceeds from every JWLS watch sold go to The Julia Lyons Foundation, a foundation also set up by Emily, focused on supporting the Cystic Fibrosis community.
Cystic Fibrosis is a fatal disease, impacting 4300 Canadians in 2017. People who have Cystic Fibrosis have a mucus that is too thick for their body, which impacts many of their key organs and body functions. Cystic Fibrosis impacts lungs most, causing difficulty breathing and often requiring lung transplants. It also impacts patients’ digestive systems, which can cause malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. These are just some of the many hardships someone with Cystic Fibrosis encounters on a daily basis. There is currently no cure for Cystic Fibrosis, meaning the only treatments is symptom management, which can quickly become cumbersome, both financially and otherwise. As a result of the intensive treatments, relocation is a necessity for some families to be closer to their treatment options, with 20.1% of Cystic Fibrosis patients travelling more than 250km to receive care in 2016. The average person with Cystic Fibrosis in Canada only lives to about 52 years old.
Julia Lyons died in 2011 at the age of 27 after battling with Cystic Fibrosis most of her life following being diagnosed at 4 months old. Her life quickly became filled with preventative treatments, including two double lung transplants. Throughout it all Emily remembers that Julia fought hard, never losing her mischievous humor, fierce intelligence, kindness and empathy through the daily challenges she faced from Cystic Fibrosis. Despite Julia’s consistent bright spirit, this was still an extremely intense experience for both Julia and her family. Emily not only experienced the effects of Cystic Fibrosis firsthand, but also garnered a specific empathy for it, that only someone so close to the disease can understand. She also quickly understood the value of providing support for families throughout a battle with Cystic Fibrosis.
Emily Lyons started The Julia Lyons Foundation in 2018, in memory of her sister, to support the Cystic Fibrosis community. Their mission is to lessen the hardships of people with Cystic Fibrosis, to lift up the Cystic Fibrosis community, and to proactively fight back against this disease. The Julia Lyons Foundation accomplishes this through running various programs for Cystic Fibrosis patients and anyone else involved with the disease. Their programs range in purpose since Emily recognizes the range of challenges that the Cystic Fibrosis community must face on a daily basis. Understanding that Cystic Fibrosis is not only a physically tasking disease, but also extremely mentally tasking, The Julia Lyons Foundation runs mental health programs. They will also be at the forefront during Cystic Fibrosis month in May, launching new products and initiatives in support of the Cystic Fibrosis community.
To further honour her sister, Emily started JWLS, a fashionable line of watches, which donates its proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis community through The Julia Lyons Foundation. Their watches are for both men and women and range in price from about $50 to 100. In the beginning, Emily purchased and covered the cost of the watches herself, aiming to offer as much as possible to the Cystic Fibrosis community. The brand is lovingly named JWLS after Julia’s nickname, Jewels. Besides its aid in the Cystic Fibrosis community, the brand is meant to acknowledge the timelessness of Julia’s spirit and the spirit of many others who have passed away from Cystic Fibrosis.
Emily Lyons herself is a true inspiration – wearing all hats in both The Julia Lyons Foundation and JWLS, both of which she founded at a young age and from a place of true love for her sister and empathy for others. She is the image of what many aspire to be, standing for something she truly cares about and wants to solve; taking impactful action.
Learn more about Cystic Fibrosis and what Emily is doing with The Julia Lyons Foundation and her watch brand, JWLS at their websites: https://www.julialyonsfoundation.com/ and https://www.jwlsofficial.com/.
Contributor: Holly Mowbray
Holly is a university student from Toronto. She loves the street style of the city and the Toronto lifestyle. She is also an avid traveler, working her way through exploring the world.