UW-Madison News: Hundreds “seize the lei” to help find a cure for epilepsy


CONTACT: Anne Pankratz, 608-288-9789


MADISON – A sold out crowd of more than 650 guests warmed up a cold winter’s night recently at the fifth annual Lily’s Luau, raising $105,000 to benefit Lily’s Fund for Epilepsy Research.

Guests donned leis, grass skirts, and colorful Hawaiian gear as they enjoyed a live and silent auction, delicious luau fare, and great music at Union South on January 26.

During the event, co-organizers Anne Morgan Giroux and Colleen Penwell announced that Lily’s Fund is funding its second research fellow, whose sole focus is epilepsy research, at UW-Madison.

The Giroux family made a surprise announcement that Lily’s Fund would launch a new research initiative, “Grace Grants,” named after Grace Penwell. Both Anne and Dave Giroux’s daughter Lily, and Dave and Colleen Penwell’s daughter Grace suffer from epilepsy. The families and their army of volunteers and supporters have been tireless in raising funds and awareness to help find a cure for epilepsy.

These grants will open up another door to UW scientists who want to collaborate on new epilepsy research. In addition to the fellow, these one-time grants can serve as an important catalyst or spark in epilepsy research. At the National Institutes of Health, these are called “Eureka Grants,” but at Lily’s Fund, “Grace Grants” honor Grace Penwell, her great spark and courage.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with our turn-out this year – we had a record-breaking crowd, amazing sponsors and volunteers and more funds raised to help find a cure for epilepsy,” says Morgan Giroux. As an all-volunteer organization, Lily’s Fund invests 100 percent of proceeds from the Luau to advance epilepsy research at UW-Madison.

For more information on Lily’s Fund for Epilepsy Research, please visit www.lilysfund.org.