(Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch of “Glee” pay tribute to CURE Epilepsy Volunteer of the Year Tammy Haddad)
Susan Axelrod, Connie Milstein and Tammy Haddad — three powerhouse players in Washington — have quickly raised DC consciousness about the debilitating brain disorder epilepsy.
Epilepsy is far more prevalent than I had realized — and is surging in one of its forms as some returning military veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq are afflicted with post-traumatic epilepsy. Susan Axelrod and her husband, Obama franchise political guru David Axelrod, have deep personal stakes in the future of epilepsy research given their own experience raising a daughter who suffers from serious epileptic seizures.
The three got together at a tasteful but unusually fun and human reception with many of their friends and supporters in the Newseum‘s penthouse on Wednesday evening to raise awareness, announce a major gift, and to present a volunteer of the year award.
It was a great evening — and Susan Axelrod, if people haven’t heard her before, is one of these people who seems completely untouched and uncorrupted by the Washington power scene — even though it was that scene we were in that night. She is married to one of the most powerful political hands in the nation and yet she is focused like a laser on anyone and anything related to providing relief from or rolling back epilepsy.
I loved watching Susan from across the room Wednesday spend a great deal of the evening talking to a young military couple, the husband of whom had come back from America’s current wars with post-traumatic epilepsy. Axelrod appears to me genuine, real, approachable, and uncorrupted — and I admire what she has done with CURE.
At the event, philanthropist and Jefferson Hotel proprietess Connie Milstein announced her gift of a $500,000 two year matching grant to CURE, and challenged many of the folks in the room to support the cause as well. She said that the biggest givers could take part in a big DC-style (!) “slumber party” at the iconic Jefferson Hotel, which is one of Milstein’s many high profile properties.
And then crowning the evening was the presentation of CURE’s Volunteer of the Year Award to the uber-connected and uber-powerful Tammy Haddad, who is one of political broadcast journalism’s most successful producers. Haddad, who has this palpable mystique among the DC celebrity power types, was celebrated by Susan Axelrod for all she had done to inject awareness of the need for greater research in epilepsy into official Washington.
I was blown away by Haddad’s performance at a crowded brunch she hosted highlighting Susan Axelrod’s and CURE’s work during the many days of festivities surrounding the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. With celebs like Matthew Morrison, the Jonas Brothers, a bunch of White House, Senate and House stars on the premises — along with media celebs like Chris Matthews and Arianna Huffington — getting the entire house to ‘be quiet’ and listen to something serious about epilepsy brain disorders would be tough for anyone. But Haddad insisted that people cut the frivolous banter and listen.
As Axelrod said about Haddad, Tammy is a very big force of nature — and she has a huge following in Washington who love her. She’s spending her political capital raising awareness about epilepsy — and I’ve been intrigued and applaud.
In a collage of fun video tributes to Tammy, Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, Greta van Susteren, David Gregory, Jake Tapper, Hal Ford, and others paid tribute to the political diva. More than a couple of the media personalities confessed that they were “just a little afraid of her.”
One of the coolest video tributes (above) featured Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch of Glee celebrating Tammy Haddad and her volunteerism.
This is only “part” of the video — which got really hilarious, and politically incorrect — but not gonna put that up. But it had everyone busting up.
In any case, congratulations to Tammy Haddad — and a big salute to Susan Axelrod and Connie Milstein for their impressive, humane, and important work. This is the kind of thing I wish we saw more of in Washington.
Go to CURE’s website if you would like to make an end of year donation and to learn more. And go sign up on CURE’s Facebook site!
— Steve Clemons