History of Lily's Fund

Giroux Family


Headlines: Madison papers carry news about epilepsy research at UW-Madison. Anne and Dave Giroux, eager to learn more, meet with researchers Avtar Roopra and Tom Sutula.

A Gift: Lily’s Fund is created at the University of Wisconsin Foundation through a gift from the Giroux family, in honor of their daughter, Lily. It begins as an annual award given to a faculty or staff member whose work on epilepsy research was especially noteworthy.


First LuauEncouraged by friends and family to make Lily’s Fund a bigger, public cause, Anne and Dave Giroux recruit a small band of volunteers to host the inaugural Lily’s Luau at Memorial Union’s Great Hall. About 200 guests attended, and the event netted $16,000 for epilepsy research. Colleen and David Penwell attend as guests.

WID: Findorff-Mortenson hosts the first Lily’s Lunch at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery — a new research facility under construction at UW-Madison. Workers are asked to make a $5 gift for lunch, and each donation is matched by the general contractors totaling more than $40,000.



Luau #2: Lily’s Luau returns to Great Hall for a second year. As momentum, volunteers and funds grow, Lily’s Fund announces a new goal – to jointly fund a research fellowship in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. This new position, focused exclusively on epilepsy-related science, would bring bright young scientists to UW who would advance important epilepsy research.


Luau #3: The third annual Luau attracted more guests, and raised more money! Lily’s Fund announces that funds had been raised for a new position, and the first-ever Lily’s Fund Fellowship competition was posted! Dr. Richard Moss coordinates a selection committee of outstanding scientists and clinicians who choose the Lily’s Fund Fellow.

First Fellow: Elizabeth Hutchinson serves as the first Lily’s Fund Fellow, pursuing her research to find markers in the brain that can predict epilepsy.



Luau #4: Lily’s Luau returns to Great Hall for another successful event.

Vision: A newly appointed scientific advisory committee creates a strategic vision for Lily’s Fund and future epilepsy research at UW-Madison.


Luau #5: Due to sell out capacity crowds and construction at Memorial Union, Lily’s Luau moves to the new Varsity Hall at Union South.

Second Fellow: Lily’s Fund announces the appointment of the second Lily’s Fund Fellow, Brandon Wright, as well as a new funding initiative, Grace Grants.



Luau #6:  700 guests attend Wisconsin’s favorite mid-winter luau to raise money for epilepsy research. The Neuron Project is unveiled. Newlyweds Mary Jo and Matt Kronberger are the first to name a neuron, and other Luau guests follow their lead, immediately staking their claims to the newly-installed sculpture.

First Grace Grant: Lily’s Fund and UW-Madison announce the first two-year, $100,000 Grace Grant. Giulio Tononi and Rama Maganti will use the funds to see if high-density electro encephalograph (HD-EEG) technology can be used to identify the focal point of seizures in the brain, as well as calculate the seizure’s pathway. Typical EEG devices used in hospitals and clinics gather information about brain activity and seizures using 19 electrodes placed on the scalp. By comparison, HD-EEG devices use up to 256 electrodes.

Neuron Project Dedicated: In conjunction with Purple Day, Lily’s Fund dedicated The Neuron Project at WIMR II.

Badgers Axe Epilepsy: The Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers collaborate with Lily’s Fund on a groundbreaking “1-in-26” epilepsy awareness project. Students waved purple bandanas during “Jump Around.” Scoreboards and displays throughout the stadium carry informational messages. And a special 30-second PSA featuring Bucky Badger airs on the giant scoreboard.


Luau #7: Lily’s Luau 2015 raises $145,000 for epilepsy research. Underwriting from 54 sponsors keeps the luau affordable for all. 70+ auction donors generously contribute their goods and services, and electronic bidding is introduced for the first time. Famed opera singer Kitt Foss dazzles the crowd with a surprise performance.

Special Grant: Buoyed by generous support, Lily’s Fund awards a special two-year grant to Avtar Roopra.

Lily's Luau 2015 at Varsity Hall. 
Photo by Craig Schreiner

What does the future hold?

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