Saturday, February 16, 2008

On their way to cure seizure disorders?

When Lauren Axelrod was just 7 months old, her mother, Susan, found her one morning limp and blue in her crib. She had suffered a night of uncontrollable epileptic seizures that had no known cause and would forever change their lives.Now 26, Lauren Axelrod has over the years received 20 drugs that did not work. She also endured countless hospitalizations and medical procedures, special diets -- even a neurological procedure in which electrodes were implanted in her brain.

As they negotiated this difficult path, Susan Axelrod and her husband, David, of Chicago and other parents of children with the disease, decided to take action. They founded Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, an group dedicated to spearheading a search for a cure.
Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised more than $8 million to fund research and other initiatives to find a cure. Susan Axelrod said the group also wants to dispel common misconceptions about the disease.

"In general, the public believes that epilepsy is a benign and very treatable condition," she said. "Very few people know that almost half of all epilepsy patients do not experience seizure control, and that often, when they do have their seizures under control, it is at great cost in terms of debilitating side effects from anti-seizure medications."Susan Axelrod said every seizure can cause damage to the brain and is potentially life-threatening.Lauren Axelrod is cognitively and developmentally delayed.

However, at age 18, she was put on a new medication that has stopped her seizures. Although Lauren's disabilities still are profound, and she is not able to live independently, Susan Axelrod said her daughter's freedom from seizures has had a positive impact on her life."She has made great strides cognitively. We have been able to reduce her total amount of medication, and she doesn't live in the seizure- and medication-induced fog that she did for so many of her formative years."

CURE is marking its 10th anniversary with a fundraising dinner that will start at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.The event will include a reception, commemorative program and dinner. Guests will be invited to view museum exhibits. Tickets are $325 per person. Visit or call 312-255-1801.


The DuPage Senior Citizens Council needs volunteers to serve sandwiches and soup to seniors. The Community Dining Program provides seniors over age 60 with sandwiches, hot soup, sides, beverages and the opportunity to socialize. It serve more than 300 meals daily at its 20 nutrition sites.

Earlier this year, the council incorporated the sandwich program to offer more variety to seniors. Call 630-620-0804 to make a reservation for lunch or to volunteer.*Free tax preparation will be offered from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Dunham Hall lobby at Aurora University, 1400 Marseillaise Pl.

Thirty-five business students and professors will help prepare federal and state tax returns for people earning up to $50,000 through the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. A Social Security identification number is required. Other sessions will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Feb. 23, Mar. 1, 15 and 29; and April 5. Bilingual students will provide translation for people who speak Spanish, Russian, Italian and Albanian.

Before preparing returns for the public, college students complete 24 hours of classroom training, which includes preparing more than 50 sample federal and state returns.

Call 630-844-6895.


The 10th annual Big City Night Gala to benefit Aspire Children's Services will be held Feb. 23 in the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago. The group provides an array of therapies, educational programs and other support to children with developmental disabilities and delays and their families in the western suburbs. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight and will include dinner, dancing, live and silent auctions and a raffle. Tickets are $150 per person. Call 708-547-3575.*

The Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club will hold the ninth annual Taste of the Town at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 29 at Bobak's Signature Events & Conference Center at Seven Bridges, 6440 Double Eagle Drive, Woodridge. This fundraiser includes samplings from local restaurants and catering businesses.

The event will include a live and silent auction and raffles. The money raised will go to fund scholarships and support organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates, food pantries and shelters. Tickets are $70 per person.

Call 630-632-5345 or visit .

*Hesed House will hold an open house to celebrate 25 years of providing shelter to the homeless through its Public Action to Deliver Shelter. The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 24 at 659 S. River St., Aurora. Tours will occur every 30 minutes. The ministries of Hesed House exist through volunteers from more than 70 faith communities, numerous groups and individuals.

The open house also will provide an introduction to new volunteers, companies and church groups.

Call 630-897-2156 or visit .


Employees of Kraft Foods recently volunteered at the Peoples Resource Center in Wheaton. They were among 1,200 workers who took part in a day of volunteering to help 50 non-profit organizations in the Chicago area.

At the resource center, volunteers worked in the clothes closet and literacy center and stocked canned goods and other items in the food pantry. The resource center is a non-profit group that helps people living in need throughout DuPage county. Last year, the center helped more than 20,000 DuPage residents meet their basic needs.

Center services include emergency rent and mortgage assistance and empowerment programs to help people break the cycle of poverty. These programs include computer training and access, literacy sessions, job-search assistance and art classes.*

The DuPage County Forest Preserve District benefited from the efforts of 692 full-time volunteers and 2,448 one-time volunteers in fiscal year 2006-07. They donated a total of 68,231 hours to the district's eight volunteer programs and saved $1.28 million.


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