May 10, 2016

Annual Benefit for Epilepsy Research Raises Awareness and Funds with the Help of Comedian and Writer Jon Stewart

Chicago, IL – Last night at The Field Museum, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) raised more than $2 million for epilepsy research with the help of more than 1300 attendees and featured guest Jon Stewart.

During the event and in time for Military Appreciation Month, CURE announced its new partnership with the Department of Defense, which will culminate in a first of its kind research program that will benefit veterans who have been touched by traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic epilepsy.

“I hope this works,” said Jon Stewart during his performance, right after the audience took part in mobile bidding, raising almost $300,000. “Honestly, I am so tired of disease and pestilence and trouble. People work too damn hard. I can’t tell you how much I applaud you all for making a difference.”

Stewart enthralled the crowd with his characteristic blend of satire and sincerity, helping draw a record number of guests to the event, old and new faces alike.

In its 18th year, CURE’s Annual Chicago Benefit, with the help of presenting sponsors Cafaro-Livingston Charitable Trust and GCM Grosvenor, brought together those personally touched by epilepsy, as well as those who understand the critical and growing need for a cure. While epilepsy affects an estimated 3 million Americans, it receives less total funding per patient than Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism, according to statistics from the National Institute of Health.

“We have much more to do because, even though you hear little about epilepsy until it touches your life, epilepsy affects one in 26 Americans in their lifetime,” said CURE’s Founding Chair Susan Axelrod. “This is a major public health problem that places a huge burden not just on the individual, but on society.”

Event chair David Storch, chairman, president and CEO of AAR Corporation started off the evening by discussing his lack of a personal connection to epilepsy.

“As I learned more about the prevalence of the disease, I realized my concerns were minor compared to the 65 million people worldwide, and their families, who are impacted,” said Storch.

Among the other dignitaries at last night’s event were the Honorable Ed Burke and Justice Anne Burke, Governor Pat Quinn, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, the Honorable John Cullerton, Senator Dan Bliss and Senator Dan Kotowski. In addition, guests were entertained by performances from the Misericordia Heartzingers Choir, The Nostalgics, and the Walter Payton College Prep Jazz Band.

Much like Sue and her fossilized bones guarding over the crowd Monday night, CURE hopes to make epilepsy extinct.