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VP Biden Addresses CURE Gala

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David & Susan Axelrod with daughter Lauren and NPR's Peter Sagal

Vice President Joseph Biden shared his deeply personal story of brain trauma at the annual Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) fundraising gala on Tuesday. He told the Chicago crowd gathered at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom about the life-threatening aneurysm and two subsequent seizures he suffered in 1988. Biden called epilepsy "a terrible lightning storm in the brain."

"It's amazing what we don't know about how the brain functions," Biden said. "For the first time in human history, significant resources and human capital are being applied to unlock how to catch that lightning." Reuters has more on the story.

CURE was founded in 1998 by Susan Axelrod, wife of former White House senior Adviser David Axelrod, and other parents frustrated with their inability to protect their children from the devastation of seizures and the side effects of medications. The Axelrod's daughter, Lauren, lives with the disease.

"There is no lonelier feeling -- and many of you have experienced it -- when you know your child has a chronic illness which can't be controlled," David Axelrod explained.

Epilepsy affects over 3 million Americans of all ages and some 50 million people worldwide. It can develop at any age and may be a result of head injury, brain tumor, stroke and many other unknown causes.

"I can only image what it's like to stare at your child while their eyes roll back in their head," Biden said, quoted in The Chicago Tribune. "But the truth is, I believe with every fiber of my being that (a cure) is just around the corner."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn were among the 900 people attending the gala that raised almost $800,000 for the nonprofit organization. In addition to the Vice President's keynote speech, the event featured Peter Sagal, Host of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me." Since its founding, CURE has raised $15 million to fund epilepsy research and has has awarded over 107 cutting-edge projects.

More information about CURE can be found at cureepilepsy.org. WHCI is proud to support the work of CURE and if you would like to donate, please click HERE. The video below premiered at the annual CURE gala and features poignant, personal stories of families who have battled epilepsy.