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April 14, 2012 - Epilepsy Foundation Presents 'Life Outside the Box'

What: Gala benefitting the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado

Where: Ritz Carlton Hotel Denver

When: Saturday, April 14, 2012

Time: 6 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $250 per person; sponsorships from $2,500

Beneficiary: The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado and the Jason Fleishman Summer Camp

Gala Chairperson(s): Kate Petrocoo

Honorary Chairperson(s): Layne and Craig Fleishman

Executive Director: Gail Pundsack

Committee Members: Kate Petrocco, Chairwoman; Obe Ariss, Jenee Cummings, Marcia Forman (auction chair), Brooke Gordon, Patty Hahn, Shelly Loomer, Tracy Murray, Candy Palazzo, Tina Ryan, Ann Speer

Staff: Marcee Peterson, Youth and Family Programs; Jennifer Houston, Adult Program Manager; Laura Hamilton-Johnson, Office Manager, Angela Herrera, Administrative Coordinator; Marilyn Burns, Office Manager--Donation Center; Johana Figueroa, Customer Service Rep.; Allison Sedlacek, North Region Mgr of Rural Outreach; Nicole Heil, Rural Outreach Coordinator, Grand Junction; Shawn Elliott, Rural Outreach Coordinator, Alamosa; Shanae Gutierrez, Rural Outreach Coordinator, Pueblo

Entertainment: The Moderators

Sponsors: Platinum: Fleishman & Shapiro PC; Gold: University of Colorado Hospital, Franzen Family, Lundbeck Inc., Wells Fargo Private Banking: Silver: Biddle Family, Gordon Family; Bronze: Children's Hospital of Colorado, Cyberonics, Fitzsimmons-Rafferty Family, Forman Family, HealthOne-Swedish Hospital, Nordstrom, Palazzo Family--US Pipeline, Petroco Family, Schaffer Family, Sharon Magness Blake, Speer Family, Wells Fargo Foundation; Pearl: Ariss Family, Arnold's Custom Seeding, Wayne Forman, Sweetbaum, Levin & Sands PC, Turley Family

Auctioneer: Rick Rolph

Attendance: 400

Attire: Black tie

Board of Directors: Kathy Ashenfelter - Past President, Cheif Financial Officer - Swedish Medical Center; Steve Franzen - President, TEKsystems; Ann Speer - Treasurer, Managing Partner/Executive Consultant - CVC Enterprises, LLC; Tracy Bray - Secretary, Cadence Pharmaceuticals; M. Gina Navarette, Ph.D, Clinical Director - Colorado Neuropsychological and Behavioral Center; Rick Campbell, President - Vellejo Investments; John Burstein, Managing Director - Black Creek Group; Brooke Gordon, Community Leader; Edd Maa, M.D., Neurology/Epilepsy - Denver Health and Hopitals; Bob Pinkerton; Tim Murray, Vice President, Wealth Managment Consultant - Wells Fargo Private Bank; Craig Fleishman, Fleishman & Shapiro, P.C.; For a list of advisory board members, visit

 Craig and Layne Fleishman display their special award
Craig and Layne Fleishman display their special award

The saying goes that you should never have to bury your child. That heartfelt sentiment was empathetically evident Saturday evening as Craig and Layne Fleishman talked about losing their sons, and how Craig began his advocacy for the Epilepsy Foundation and founded the Jason Fleishman summer camp in memory of his son, whom he lost suddenly at age 23 to meningitis. Jason had epilepsy, but the video shown of him in his last days portrayed a vibrant, popular and good soul who was just ready to go out into a successful life after graduating from college. 

Through tragedy and tears also comes progress and Craig and Layne, along with event chair Kate Petrocco, board chair Steve Franzen and emcee Will Ripley all talked about how support for the Epilepsy Foundation has served to bring the affliction out of the shadows and attack the stigma that it is life-stifling, contagious or limiting to the people who happen to have it.

"When I became involved with this several years ago, there were a handful of us in flip-flops," said Layne. Now look at you--there's close to 300 supporters here tonight, and we thank you." Everyone's heart went out to Layne as she talked about her own loss when her son John Butler Hunt was the victim of a drowning accident when he was only three years old. As a result, she started Kid Safe and also the group Compassionate Friends and has said "If I can save the life of just one child, where mine was taken, then that's my mission here on earth."

The theme of the night was "A Life Outside the Box," celebrating Vincent Van Gogh. "The Red Curtain" pays homage to Van Gogh, and the depiction in the piece appears to be Van Gogh having a seizure, and interpretation lends itself to the idea Van Gogh's seizures stopped his work. The artwork and theme set the perfect setting for a stylish evening at the Ritz Carlton Hotel so that funds could be raised to continue to fight the stigma surrounding epilepsy and contribute to more research to mitigate it.

When her grandchild was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1964, Dr. Harriet Hunter incorporated the Colorado Epilepsy Association because there were no support services available for youth with epilepsy. Working out of her basement, Dr. Hunter and a group of loyal, dedicated volunteers began providing counseling and support to those impacted by epilepsy, while also educating the public about seizure disorders.  As the organization’s reputation grew, permanent staff was hired, office space was secured and employment and youth programs were added to meet the growing needs of people with epilepsy. In 2000 they expanded their scope of services to areas in Western, Southern and Northern Colorado.

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