CURE: A Night of Meaningful Philanthropy in Washington


(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.
tammy haddad.jpgAnd 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


5 comments on “CURE: A Night of Meaningful Philanthropy in Washington

  1. WigWag says:

    I have been out of town but have been meaning to write a comment about this post.
    Epilepsy can be a terrible disease. More often than not, ant seizure medications control the number and severity of seizures, but for some epilepsy sufferers, especially children, seizures can be intractable to medications. The good news is that new anti seizure medications are coming out all the time; the bad news is that they don’t work for everyone. Anyone who has witnessed a severe seizure, let alone experienced one, knows how frightening it can be. But even more mild seizures (some last only a second or two and can be so mild that an observer doesn’t even realize a seizure has occurred) can be debilitating, especially if the patient experiences scores of seizures a day (which often happens with patients with intractable epilepsy.)
    Interestingly there is a non-medical treatment for epilepsy that was routinely used before the advent of ant seizure medicines that is now becoming popular again because it is so extraordinarily effective; the ketogenic diet.
    It seems that by dramatically reducing carbohydrate intake (to less than 5 grams per day) patients with intractable epilepsy frequently see their seizures disappear entirely or reduced dramatically. Recent attention to this method was pioneered by a group at Johns Hopkins Medical School (headed by John Freeman, M.D.) and has now been actively pursued by a group at Massachusetts General Hospital led by Elizabeth Thiele. Dr. Thiele’s work with the ketogenic diet as a therapy for epilepsy was highlighted in the New York Times only last week. Here’s a link to the Times article entitled “Epilepsy


  2. Brittani Rygg-mcLean says:

    I have epilepsy and the fact that now i No people are out there trying to help find a cure makes me really happy.Im only 19 and living with Epilepsy is really hard you cant do things like other people can it makes you feel like an outsider that noone wants to be around and people dont understand how hard that can be.I just wanted to say thank you to everyone thats helping with this it means alot!!!


  3. Steve Clemons says:

    Appreciate your thoughts Don and Warren. I don’t think that David Axelrod is strongly supportive of the Afghanistan War. I’m not sure of that — but I sense that he thinks we are overexposed there. All best for the holidays, steve


  4. Warren Metzler says:

    Very good Don Bacon. The status quo loves to give itself accolades for doing charity work, that would never had been necessary if the status quo hadn’t produced the problem by several of its numerous inappropriate actions; each one a result of pursuing monetary, power, or fame gain, without regard to whether others suffered or not.
    But hope is not lost. “There is currently no known therapy that can prevent epilepsy after TBI.” This is a false statement. True if you refer to the status quo disease-oriented concept of health and illness. But false if you refer to the well-being concept of health and illness.
    God made the world to work, and every who sincerely searches long enough finds true success in life: producing a successful outcome in most of one’s daily activities (result that is excellent and the participant thoroughly enjoying the process).


  5. Don Bacon says:

    “The AES also recognizes that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the signature injury of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF), and hence, a large proportion of our returning injured war veterans will be at risk for developing posttraumatic epilepsy.”
    Injured war veterans.
    “There is currently no known therapy that can prevent epilepsy after TBI.”
    Lives ruined by senseless wars. But we’re told that the wars are necessary.
    “. . .Obama franchise political guru David Axelrod. . .”
    David Axelrod has had a hand in tripling the extent of Obama’s war and spinning it as a good and necessary activity, and thus increasing the need for epilepsy treatment. Bob Woodward: Petraeus told one of his senior aides he disliked talking with Axelrod, whom he called “a complete spin doctor.”
    Spin the wars and create more “injured war veterans.” Or “wounded warriors” according to the Pentagon.


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