Mom Makes Epilepsy Fundraising a Family Affair

Anne Morgan Giroux never knew how common epilepsy was until her oldest daughter Lily was diagnosed with the disease at the age of two. Now, Giroux could tell you that 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime, and that it is a disease far too underfunded. In 2007, Giroux and her husband Dave, along with Lily and her two sisters, began Lily’s Fund.

Although it originally began as an annual award to a faculty or staff member with noteworthy work on epilepsy research, it soon grew to much more. “Its inception was sparked by how impressed we were at the world-class research going on only a few blocks away from our house at the UW-Madison,” Giroux recalls.

With an increase in momentum and funding, the fund grew to include various events from lunches and lemonade stands to Lily’s Luau. An annual event, the Luau occurs every January. “Lily’s Luau is part of our whole family life,” Giroux says. “From my youngest [Amanda] putting stamps on hundreds of Luau invitations, to my older girls [Lily and Sophie] helping with signs, displays and the event itself.”

Although an important part of the fund, Lily’s Luau is just part of Giroux’s goal. Her mission is to “educate people about how common epilepsy is and need for more research.” Giroux never stops in her fight against epilepsy. She is continuously speaking to groups, sending out newsletters and meeting with community leaders. She wants to encourage everyone to join in their efforts.

Lily’s Fund is unique in many aspects, including how the organization connects those living with epilepsy to those doing the research. Giroux aims to encourage both sides to continue in their fight. The families are given hope upon seeing the work being done against epilepsy, and the researchers are able to put a face with the disease.

The idea of community in the fight against epilepsy is an important component to Giroux and she works hard to bring them all together every January. While throwing a luau for more than 500 people requires all hands on deck, Giroux encourages everyone to help out but most of all to let loose and have fun. Plus, she says, the UW research crew looks great in Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts. Giroux encourages everyone to join in the luau and help end the silence against epilepsy. 

For more information about Lily's Fund and Lily's Luau visit LilysFund.org

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