On June 4, 2003, family and friends of Christopher Donalty, as well as representatives from local businesses and community leaders from throughout the Mohawk Valley came together at the New Century Building, located at the corner of Hopper and Genesee Streets in Utica, New York. Determined to honor the memory of Christopher Donalty, who died of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), in a positive and meaningful way, a committee was formed and plans were begun for the
2003 Christopher Donalty CURE Benefit to raise dollars in support of epilepsy research to find a cure.Additionally, the committee made a commitment to increase public awareness of the prevalence and devastation of seizures and the debilitating side effects of available treatments. A $100,000 fundraising goal was set, and Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (www.CUREepilepsy.org), an organization whose mission was consistent with the committee’s, was selected as the benefit’s recipient.

Three months later, on September 4, 2003, over 700 people gathered for the first event of its kind in the Mohawk Valley to hear Susan Axelrod, the founder and President of CURE, speak on behalf of the organization and its research program. Under the leadership of the committee’s chairman, local attorney, George F. Aney, and with the dedication and hard work of committee members, over $200,000 was raised to support cutting-edge epilepsy research. An amazing accomplishment in just three short months!

Following up on the very positive community response to the 2003 benefit, the committee decided to change gears, and in 2005 held a telethon with the support and direction of WKTV NewsChannel 2. At the conclusion of the two-hour long broadcast, which reached over 400,000 households in Central New York, donations again totaled over $200,000 in support of CURE’s research program. The 2005 Christopher Donalty CURE Telethon was not only another financial success, but also played a significant role in educating the viewing audience about epilepsy. Callers expressed surprise and shock over the number of people impacted (over 3 million Americans), and, especially the number of deaths from seizure related causes (over 50,000 each year, more than the number who die from breast cancer).

The 2007 Christopher Donalty CURE Benefit, “Remembering Chris….Roasting George,” attracted another sell-out crowd, again rising in excess of $200,000 to advance the search for a cure. The event’s chairman, George F. Aney, drew a crowd of well wishers, who enjoyed the remarks of roasters, Linda Romano, Carl DelBuono, and Ray Meier. The generosity of the Mohawk Valley community continued and helped to provide funding for additional CURE research projects.

The 2009 Christopher Donalty CURE Benefit lived up to the expectations that supporters had come to expect. The evening’s keynote speaker, David Axelrod, the husband of Susan Axelrod, and senior advisor to President Barack Obama, spoke movingly about his 27 year old daughter Lauren, diagnosed with epilepsy at seven months, and the profound impact it has had on her and their family. It was through this struggle that CURE was started by Susan, and two other mothers of children with epilepsy. The evening drew a record crowd and surpassed previous fundraising totals.

In 2011, Dr. Pedro Irazoqui, assistant professor of biomedial engineering at Purdue Unversity, delievered the the evening’s keynote address at the fifth Christopher Donalty CURE Benefit. Dr. Irazoqui was the recipient of the 2006 Christopher Donalty Interdisciplinary Award. The audience was pleased to hear first hand of the exiting progress he is making in the development of his epielpsy detection brain implant device.

To date, these five events, and additional donations in Christopher’s memory, have raised over $1.16 million, which has enabled CURE to fund eleven cutting-edge research grants Learn More.

Christopher’s family and friends remain determined that his death will not be the end of his story. He wanted to make a difference in the world and local efforts on his behalf to continue to raise research dollars and public awareness, will help his dream come true.

Please support the 2013 Christopher Donalty CURE Benefit!