David Axelrod: Epilepsy "Terrorism of Brain"

John Vogelstein and David Axelrod

John Vogelstein and David Axelrod

By David Adler

David and Susan Axelrod dazzled the city by the bay with the launch of the CURE Epilepsy 1st Annual West Coast Benefit in San Francisco, CA. Evelyn Nussenbaum and Fred Vogelstein co-chaired the dinner with in-laws, John and Barbara Vogelstein, and Susan Axelrod.

In his keynote address at the Four Seasons David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser to President Obama called epilepsy, “terrorism of the brain. ”

Evelyn Nussenbaum event co-chair said, “We’re in the same place as so many other people affected by epilepsy–grappling with the fact that despite the introduction of many new drugs over the last 50 years,  the percentage of people with epilepsy who cannot control their seizures has not changed. It’s over 30 percent.”

Fred Vogelstein told the crowd, “The way we treat and think about epilepsy is in the dark ages.  It still scares people so much that those with seizures lose jobs and relationships because of it.”

San Francisco political superstars Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown, joined Susan and David Axelrod to raise awareness and funds to support epilepsy research. The omnipresent and forever mayor in many San Franciscans’ minds, Willie Brown, whipped the crowd into a giving frenzy Phil Donahue style, raising money paddle by paddle to support the “Fund a Need” grant program.  Guests included San Francisco County Supervisor Malia Cohen, SF lawyer Rich Guggenhime, Men’s Health Magazine’s Andrew Kramer with his beautiful wife, Caryn and Google’s David and Marimo Drummond.  The event also highlighted the groundbreaking work of Bay Area scientists who have received CURE grants to continue their research.

Washington had two terrific Ambassadors, Steve Clemons  and Self magazine’s Marc Adelman. One of Washington’s favorite bloggers, Clemons, wrote about the dinner at http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2011/03/gavin_newsoms_i/

David Axelrod told the audience that the two most amazing women he will ever know are his daughter, Lauren, and his wife Susan, an evangelical epilepsy advocate. He also described the amazing families who he has met through their 30 year journey with epilepsy describing one family friend who votes Republican and watches Bill O’Reilly every night: not important as this is a disease that transcends politics and ideology.

Axelrod addressed the political current climate, “Our politics are so divisive now. Cable TV and instant news allow us to focus on our different beliefs and philosophies. But in the community of those of us affected by epilepsy, those differences do not matter. Epilepsy cuts across all political, social, ethnic, and economic lines. No group is spared. And we must remember and use our common humanity to fight it.”

Peter Rowan’s Bluegrass Band entertained the crowd fulfilling the New Yorker’s comment that Rowan, a Grammy winner, is “an American treasure.”

To give to the Fund the Need campaign, Click on CUREEpilepsy.org

photos courtesy Drew Altizer

First Annual West Coast Benefit for CUREFirst Annual West Coast Benefit for CUREDavid Axelrod with Vogelstein twinsFred Vogelstein and Evelyn Nussenbaum, co-chairsSteve Clemons, Gavin Newsom, David AxelrodRed Carpet ArrivalsFirst Annual West Coast Benefit for CUREFred Vogelstei, Evelyn Nussenbaum, and David AxelrodWillie BrownWillie Brown, Susan Axelrod and friendsFirst Annual West Coast Benefit for CUREDavid and Susan Axelrod and friendGavin Newsom and David AxelrodSteve Clemons, Gavin Newsom and David AxelrodSusan Axelrod, Steve Clemons, Marc Adelman