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December 15, 1997

Local News

Berit's bright lights

  On Nov. 30 the front yard of Katie and Steve Lundeen was once again aglow in the holiday spirit as friends gathered for the annual lighting of their 50 foot Colorado Blue Spruce. Christmas carols were sung, cookies and hot apple cider enjoyed and thanks were given by Laura and Kim Cooper for all that has been accomplished on behalf of their daughter Berit this past year. Last year the Lundeens' Christmas tree lighting kicked-off a fundraising drive called "Buy a Light for Berit's Bright Future" on behalf of Berit Cooper, who has Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood or AHC. AHC is a rare neurological disorder that causes episodes of paralysis which lead to significant neurological damage and long term disabilities.
   "Before last year's tree lighting very little was known about AHC, it's diagnosis or it's treatment," said Berit's mother, Laura Cooper. "The money collected from last year's tree lighting fund-raiser provided the spark which ultimately resulted in an international medical symposium on AHC that was held in Woodinville at The Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery last May," Kim Cooper, Berit's father added. The symposium was the first time doctors gathered in the United States to focus their efforts to find a cure and treatment for the rare genetic disorder of AHC.
   Kim Cooper stated, "The symposium resulted in three important things happening. First, it brought doctors together for the purpose of prioritizing where future research efforts should be focused in the effort to find a treatment. Second, it gave direction as to where monies should be spent in support of research and finally, it raised awareness in the medical community to the disease." The results of the symposium will be published as the featured article in the January '98 issue of "The Journal of Child Neurology." "As part of the continuing effort (in the fight for a cure and treatment for AHC) it is our intention to make last year's Wine Tasting and silent auction held in conjunction with the symposium an annual effort," Cooper added. "The Woodinville community, both individuals and businesses, should take pride in ownership with the success of the campaign to put doctors and researchers on the trail to understanding and battling this disease."
   "We are so fortunate to live in such a giving community. AHC was co-beneficiary of last summer's Woodinville Chamber of Commerce's Wine Festival. As a result The Chamber donated $4500 to the AHC Foundation on behalf of Berit," said Laura Cooper. This year donations can once again be made to "Buy a Light for Berit's Bright Future" and the tree can be seen in the Woodinville community known as "The Farm" at 15515 NE 144th Place. The cost of the donation is $10 per light with all of proceeds going towards medical research in the fight against AHC. Checks can be made payable to the Alternating Hemiplegia foundation or AHF, P.O. Box 2621, Woodinville, WA, 98072.