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There is no condition of such magnitude - yet so shrouded in myth, misinformation, and mistreatment - as migraine.
— Joel R. Saper, MD, Chair, MRF Medical Advisory Board

Spotlight on Volunteers

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Spotlight on Volunteers

The Migraine Research Foundation’s mission is to help the millions of people who suffer from migraine pain as well as the friends and family who support them. Here at MRF, we are lucky to have incredible volunteers. They deserve special thanks for donating their time and energy to help MRF raise money for research. Please let us know what you or your friends or family are doing to help so that we can spotlight them.

Jill Brooks

Jill Brooks has suffered from chronic migraines her whole life, but it hasn’t stopped her from running for Miss Tennessee with Migraine Research as her platform.

Show Jill your support by liking her facebook page!

Don’t let chronic migraine stop you from achieving your goals!

Our volunteer Emily didn’t! Emily is a chronic migraine sufferer who is training to participate in The Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run this summer to raise money and awareness for migraine research, a cause that is dear to her heart.

Click here
to follow Emily’s progress and help her reach her goal.


Since he was five years old, a young man named Matthew has suffered from migraines. In preparation for his Bar Mitzvah this spring, Matthew and his family decided to organize a fundraiser to benefit a cause that was close to their hearts. When Matthew’s family learned of the Migraine Research Foundation, they were thrilled to find an organization that supports pediatric migraine research.

The family organized a fundraiser for MRF at a local bowling alley. Matthew invited his friends and family for a fun night of bowling to help strike out migraine disease! Sixty people attended the event to show their support for Matthew and his Mitzvah project. Supporters spent their time bowling and socializing while Matthew’s mother collected donations and snapped pictures of smiling bowlers. Instead of keeping score, Matthew and his friends focused on having fun. "It doesn’t matter what the score of the bowling game was, the only thing that matters is that we all had a great time and everyone was there supporting me and my family,” said Matthew. Everybody who came had a wonderful time knowing they helped support a very important cause while also having fun.

Matthew was able to raise $800 for MRF at his fundraiser! The positive feedback that Matthew received from his guests has inspired him to continue raising awareness and money for migraine research. Between now and his Bar Mitzvah this spring, his goal is to raise $1,000. Donations honoring Matthew are still coming in. “I can’t believe so many people contributed and donated money to migraine research.  I really hope we find a cure.  I thank my family and friends for their support,” said Matthew.

Though he still gets migraines, Matthew has learned to deal with them and tries to keep a positive attitude. He hopes that MRF will help find a cure so people will no longer have to suffer. He also hopes that research will lead to the development of migraine medications that are more suitable for kids.

MRF is spotlighting Matthew to thank him and his family for their hard work and dedication. We hope his story will inspire others to take a stand against this disabling disease by raising money to help find a cure. 


Sometimes the love and support of family and friends can go a long way. A young boy from Michigan named Alex proved just that! Alex, age 9, who suffers from severe migraines turned his headaches into a source of motivation. He sent out a letter to his friends and family asking them to help him raise money for migraine research. Alex and his parents chose to support the Migraine Research Foundation because they were inspired by the “For Our Children” initiative, which was launched to address the problems of childhood migraine.

In addition to sending out a letter, Alex and his family held their second annual fundraising dinner at a local pizza restaurant to raise even more money! His father Steve, who is a firefighter, got the support of the firefighter’s union to sponsor the dinner and to help promote the event. Alex rode in a fire truck from the fire house to the restaurant where all of his family and friends waited for him to arrive. He had a great time riding in the truck because he was able to try out all of the fun gadgets inside! The restaurant offered an “endless pizza buffet” and 10% of all cash receipts were donated to MRF. The fundraiser also featured an exciting activity called “fill the boot.” People placed their donations in a pair of fireman’s boots and filled them to the top! Everyone who attended the dinner had fun and helped support a cause that was important to Alex and his family. In all, Alex was able to raise over $2,000 for the Migraine Research Foundation!

"I want migraines to go away so people don’t have to deal with them everyday," explains Alex, who is very proud of his accomplishments. He is confident that the proceeds from his fundraiser will help scientists to make great advancements in the science of childhood migraine. Raising money to support migraine research is important to Alex and his family because they want to make a difference in the lives of sufferers.

MRF is sharing Alex’s story to thank him and his family for all their hard work and dedication and to show that anyone with a mission, no matter their age, can truly make a difference!



Some people run in a road race to raise money for charity. Others do a bike ride or a swim. MRF volunteer Marcy is doing all three! She is competing in the Timberman Half-Ironman Triathlon this summer to raise money for the Migraine Research Foundation.

Marcy is an avid athlete who has competed in local road races and shorter-distance “sprint” triathlons despite suffering from exercised-induced migraines. Sometimes called “weightlifters headaches” or “sports headaches,” these attacks can be triggered by strenuous exercise and sometimes stike Marcy when she is competing or training.

Inspired by her friends who were competing in Ironman Triathlons, Marcy decided to push herself by training for her first half-Ironman – an event featuring a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile half marathon. Marcy also saw this as an opportunity do something “proactive” for a cause near and dear to her heart. She had recently learned about the Migraine Research Foundation while searching for help for her niece, who also suffers from migraine. Impressed with MRF’s reputation for being a well-respected funder of much-needed research and its partnerships with other athletic events, Marcy dedicated her triathlon to raising both money and awareness for MRF.

While training for a triathlon may be hard work, Marcy made fundraising easy for herself and her supporters. She explained to people why raising money for migraine research was important to her, and how their support would help MRF. She set up a page at Firstgivng.com where family and friends could read her story, donate directly to her cause and offer encouragement. Marcy found Firstgiving a great tool because it did not cost her anything and was as simple to use as “sending an email.” She also put a notice in her company’s newsletter and asked for help at her local gym and pharmacy. Marcy is thrilled with how successful her efforts have been – she has raised over $650 for MRF, and people are still giving!

Marcy is using her triathlon to raise not only money for MRF, but awareness about migraine and the seriousness of the disease. By completing such a grueling event, Marcy hopes to demonstrate that she is “not a wimp” and that migraines do not hold her back. Though she is fortunate to have family and coworkers who are understanding and supportive, she knows many other migraine sufferers are dismissed as having “just a headache.” She encourages people with migraines to talk to their employers about their illness and to know their rights regarding disability laws. Marcy says that “now is the time to go for it” for anybody who is thinking about doing an event to raise money for migraine research or any other cause they care about.

Visit Marcy’s fundraising page at www.firstgiving.com/marcypicano.



Sometimes a 20-year-old bicycle and a lot of determination is all it takes to show support for a loved one. Deborah rode in NYC’s 5 Boro Bike Tour in honor of her sister, a long-time migraine sufferer, and raised money for migraine research.

Deborah knows the pain of migraine well. Her sister has been a migraine sufferer for more than 15 years. Though Deborah had offered plenty of care and support during her sister’s debilitating attacks, she had always yearned to do something concrete to help ease the pain that her sister and other migraine sufferers experience. When Deborah learned about the Migraine Research Foundation, she found MRF’s sole focus on funding research "compelling" and was eager to help. She decided to dedicate her upcoming ride in the 5 Boro Bike Tour to her sister, and to use it to raise funds for MRF.

Deborah, an occasional bike rider, was ready in spirit only to undertake the challenge of the 42 mile bike ride through all five boros of New York City. In honor of her sister, she dusted off her sister’s high school bike, a 10-speed Schwin, instead of relying on a newer, lighter weight ride. Deborah’s busy travel schedule meant spinning class and gym workouts had to replace real training rides. One sole 38-mile test ride the week before the tour proved that Deborah and the bike were ready.

Though her bike was from the 1980’s, Deborah used plenty of 21st century technology for fundraising. The MRF Facebook Cause and her own Facebook page, along with e-mail, helped to spread the word to family, friends and co-workers. More than thirty-five people contributed, and many had their gifts matched by their employers – raising over $2500! Deborah’s efforts also opened her eyes to how widespread migraine is. The responses she received confirmed that "everybody knows somebody" who is affected, and strengthened her commitment to support migraine research.

Despite rain, wind, and cold temperatures, Deborah successfully completed the bike tour. Knowing how many people supported her encouraged Deborah to persevere in the bad weather. She knows that people with migraine "didn’t choose to suffer," and considers the physical challenge of her ride a tribute to their struggles.  Deborah rates the tour "overall, a pretty great experience." She is not only thrilled with the impact she made, but is also motivated to do more to help her sister and migraine sufferers.
MRF is spotlighting Deborah to thank her for her efforts and to show that with lots of determination, anybody can make a difference.


kirstenKirsten Heinemann

Many parents feel powerless when their child is suffering from a debilitating illness like migraine. But Kirsten Heinemann decided to do something about it. She ran in the Long Island Half Marathon in the spring of 2008 to raise awareness of the seriousness of the problem and to raise much-needed funds for migraine research.

Kirsten’s son Erik was diagnosed with migraine at age 8. As his migraines grew more severe, she became frustrated with the lack of resources available for children with migraine and their parents. Few doctors had the training to properly treat pediatric migraine, and few resources were dedicated to better understanding this illness. Her search for answers led her to the Migraine Research Foundation. Kirsten was impressed by MRF’s dedication to finding a cure for migraine and improving treatment for migraine sufferers of all ages.

Having been a runner years ago, Kirsten dusted off her running shoes to run in the Long Island Half Marathon to raise money for the Migraine Research Foundation in honor of Erik, now 15. Though she had not run such a distance in years, she trained tirelessly to prepare herself for the 13-mile race. To raise funds for MRF she mailed letters seeking sponsorship donations to close friends and family who knew of Erik’s struggles with migraine. To her surprise and delight, everybody she asked responded with a contribution, as did other people who heard about her run and wanted to help. Kirsten’s efforts raised over $25,000 for the Migraine Research Foundation!

Kirsten is thrilled with having finished the half marathon, but she is most proud of the success of her run. She not only was able to show Erik how many people cared about him, but she also made a significant contribution to migraine research.

MRF is sharing Kirsten’s story to thank her and to show the impact one person can have with dedication and the support of people who care.


Spotlight on Sam & Charlie - Migraine Research Foundation

Sam and Charlie

Two young boys from Minnesota proved that helping a loved one can be fun and games. Sam and Charlie, ages 12 and 10, decided to donate the proceeds of their annual backyard carnival to the Migraine Research Foundation in honor of their grandmother, a longtime migraine sufferer.

Their hard work was rewarded with a successful carnival that raised over $800 and much-needed awareness for migraine research.

Inspired by the Muscular Dystrophy carnivals of her youth, Sam and Charlie’s mother helped her boys organize their first backyard carnival in 2003 to benefit a local charity. The carnival has since grown into an annual event much anticipated by the family and their friends, with the proceeds going to a cause near and dear to their hearts. This year, the boys decided to donate to the Migraine Research Foundation as a way to support their grandmother and teach others that migraine is a common and debilitating condition.

Making the carnival a success required a lot of hard work from Sam and Charlie. With some help from their parents, they made booths for games and food, drawing on ideas from the internet and those they had seen at the state fair. Invitations to the carnival were sent to family and friends – who each year look forward to having a great time while supporting a worthy cause. Local companies also donated food and prizes for the carnival. Sam, Charlie and other family members manned the booths. Favorite games at this year’s carnival included marshmallow mini-golf, a tennis ball toss and a minnow race – featuring live minnows!

Sam and Charlie want people to know that with dedication and a lot of hard work, it is not difficult to find a fun way to help others and raise awareness for important causes. After the carnival was over, they both took great satisfaction in counting the money they raised, knowing it would help people like their grandmother. They also feel good about teaching others how common migraine is and how so few resources are devoted to finding help for sufferers.

MRF is sharing Sam and Charlie’s story to thank the boys for their generosity and to show that anyone, regardless of age, can find a creative way to support migraine research and really make a difference.


Spotlight on Renee Daley - Migraine Research FoundationRenee Bernau

Many sufferers feel helpless in the face of the debilitating effects of migraine and wonder what they can do to speed up progress in treating this illness that affects so many Americans. Renee Bernau is one migraineur who decided that she no longer wanted to suffer in silence and is an inspiring example of what one person – armed with passion and conviction – can do.

Renee’s chronic daily migraine had seriously interfered with her life, forcing her to quit her job as an accountant at a law firm and impeding her ability to exercise, make plans or do the things that come easily to most people. Frustrated by the seeming lack of independent research into the causes of migraine, Renee wanted to start her own foundation for migraine research. In looking into her idea, Renee came across the Migraine Research Foundation and immediately offered her services. She understood that becoming actively involved in MRF‘s mission was the quickest way to our shared goal of advancing migraine research.

Renee had already started a support group for migraine sufferers at her church. Empowered with a renewed sense of purpose, she got permission to place a collection box there so that people could contribute to MRF. With materials supplied by MRF, Renee and her group sent out information on the need for migraine research to people in their personal and professional networks to encourage additional donations. For her 30th birthday, Renee asked friends and family to make donations for migraine research instead of giving her birthday gifts.

At MRF‘s request, Renee has put her know-how on paper. She has written a pamphlet for others who want to start migraine support groups in their communities. To dowload the pamphlet "How to Start a Support Group click here.

She also wants to write a book about her migraine struggles and donate the proceeds to MRF. To date, Renee has raised over $1200 for migraine research.

We’re spotlighting Renee for her efforts and thanking her for her support. Suffering from migraine can be debilitating – but by working together, we can make a difference.

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