2nd Annual Chocolate Challenge To Support Kelleigh’s Cause


Thanks to one special local cause you can now eat chocolate and give back too.

For the second year in a row, Kelleigh Gustafson of Kelleigh’s Cause is hosting a race to raise funds for arteriovenous malformations research and you can chow down on some sweet chocolate too.

Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a condition where the body’s arteries multiply at an alarming rate. Clinical director of Crouse Neuroscience Institute, Jameson Crumb, explains that victims of AVM “get a kind of intermingling of these arteries and veins…as if a bunch of wires got all tangled together.” This messy multiplication displaces organs and makes it tougher for the heart to pump blood through all the added avenues, which can sometimes prove to be fatal.

Kelleigh’s vascular anomaly is peculiar in that it is located in her head, on the right side, making it next to impossible to remove. “She was diagnosed when she was 4 years old,” says her mother Lori Gustafson, “and she’s been through over a hundred different surgical procedures and chemotherapy trials.” Now 23 years old, Kelleigh has been jumping from place to place around the US to keep up with her regular treatments performed by world-renowned surgeon Dr. Patricia Burrows.

Kelleigh’s Cause is a charitable organization that seeks to raise awareness and fund transnational research for AVM. It was founded by Kelleigh in 2013 when, as her Lori explains, “she was feeling really down, when [her vascular anomaly] had advanced to her airways…and she wanted to give back, to figure out ‘What do I do? What makes me feel good?’” The answer, the Gustafson’s have learned, is to help others going through these same trials and tribulations.

So far, the Cause has financed a two-year postdoctoral research fellow to publish groundbreaking findings and, this past spring, has started the Crouse Neuroscience Education Fund to support medical staff education on neurovascular disorders.

But the search for the cure is far from over. Come on down to the Chocolate Challenge 5K/10K on Saturday July 27 at Sharkey’s Bar and Grill at 7240 Oswego Rd. in Liverpool. The race starts at 8am. To register, it is $25 for the 5K and $40 for both the 10K and a virtual run. Or come to Wags for Swag, a dog walk, also at Sharkey’s. It starts at 6pm on Friday July 26 and is $20 to register. Every pup registered gets their own Chocolate Challenge bandana!

For more information, be sure to visit www.kelleigh.org.

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