The irony is not lost in the fact that this fundraising event name evokes fun and laughter, when in actuality, it is to support the most painful disease known to mankind.
Seven years ago, Pat Tomasulo, a sports anchor and reporter on the WGN Morning News in Chicago, along with his wife Amy, started Laugh Your Face Off, a stand-up comedy night fundraiser to raise money for research to cure trigeminal neuralgia, a debilitating facial pain disorder that Amy has suffered from since 2001.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) causes extreme, sporadic, sudden shock-like facial pain that can drop you to your knees. The intensity of the pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating, and TN is commonly referred to as the “suicide disease,” for reasons you can just imagine.
Medications, nerve destructive procedures and brain surgeries help some patients manage their painful episodes, but to date, there is no cure.
Laugh Your Face Off was started to raise funds for the Facial Pain Research Foundation (FPRF), the only organization in the world dedicated to funding research to cure this excruciating pain. The foundation is supporting projects focusing on repairing the fragile coating of a nerve, deciphering the role DNA plays in facial pain, using stem cells to rebuild and repair the nerve, and mapping pain pathways to the brain in order to block pain signals. If successful, these therapies have the potential to impact not just those who suffer from TN, but those who suffer from any nerve pain.
Pre-pandemic, LYFO was held live in Chicago, and attended by TN patients and their families. Last year they went virtual to reach their audience.
This Saturday, they once again live-streamed their show from Chicago around the world.
As a local TN patient, I hosted a “watch party” at our home in St. Davids. Sixty neighbours and friends joined us for an outdoor viewing of the comedy show. We held a 50/50 draw as well as a silent auction and penny auction. And what a success! Donations are currently around $3,500, with more coming in each day.
Domino’s Pizza in NOTL helped out by offering a special-order coupon for the date of the event that provided $5 from each order to our foundation. And they even donated all the pizzas for the night!
I would like to thank everyone for their support. We will continue to collect donations until Oct. 7, which is our International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day. That’s the day that 200 landmarks around the world will light up teal to bring awareness to this disease. Locally, you can see Niagara Falls, the Peace Bridge and Welland Bridge 13 light up teal.
If you would like to help our cause, and contribute to our fundraising event, please contact me at email@example.com or 289-929-6395.
Thank you for helping us find a cure for trigeminal neuralgia!
Brenda Sharp is a TN Patient, TN Support Group leader, and volunteer fundraising coordinator for the FPRF.