PANDASDASHVILLA PARK- Over 200 runners and families came together this weekend to participate in the inaugural PANDAS Dash 5K at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park.  Funds raised will be used toward assisting families financially while seeking treatment for their children as well as advocacy efforts to raise awareness on the symptoms of PANDAS/PANS.

“I’m proud to see our community come together to raise awareness for such a worthy cause,” State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) said. “As a father of three young boys, I understand the importance of educating medical professionals and the general public on the symptoms caused by PANDAS. Events like this are important to raise awareness and secure resources to ensure our children don’t suffer.”

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS) is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome and other tics after a child has had a strep infection. Symptoms range from severe separation anxiety to motor tics that appear similar to seizures and hallucinations. The symptoms are severe enough to prevent children from attending school.

Cullerton served as Master of Ceremony at the PANDAS Dash 5K. Throughout the year, he has been working with Wendy Nawara and Kate Drury from PANDAS/PANS Cares to raise awareness and educate medical professionals to promote early detection of PANDAS symptoms.  

“It's been really great to watch our organization grow stronger over the last three PANDAS/PANS Awareness Day events. It was extremely powerful for our families and the community to get to witness the dedication of Sen Tom Cullerton and Rep. Deb Conroy. But we know that we can't stop here,” Nawara, Executive Director of PANDAS/PITAND/PANS Advocacy and Support of Illinois said. “One successful event cannot even touch the amount of emotional, physical and often financial damage that PANDAS/PANS can wreak on families. Until PANDAS/PANS Advocacy and Support feels secure that we have real access to appropriate diagnosis and treatment, we won't stop our efforts.”

To advance this mission, Cullerton was selected to serve as a member of a PANDAS/PANS advisory council to make recommendations to the Illinois Department of Public Health on awareness and education among doctors, school-based health centers and mental health providers.

“I’m honored to receive this appointment during the week of PANS, PANDAS and PITAND Awareness Day,” said Cullerton. “We will continue to work together to raise awareness to help ensure every child affected by PANDAS/PANS receives speedy treatment.”

Earlier this year, Cullerton passed Senate Resolution 237 to designate October 9 of 2015 and 2016 as PANS, PANDAS, and PITAND Awareness Day in the State of Illinois.

[PHOTO CAPTION]: Senator Tom Cullerton pictured with Kate Drury, Wendy Nawara and Kristen Recchia, as they pose with their sons who are all named Charlie.  All PANDAS/PANS Cares officers have a son who has been diagnosed with PANDAS.

Category: Press Releases

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CONTACT SENATOR CULLERTON

Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
F: (630) 903-6643

Springfield Office
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-9463