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100-mile Ice Skate Raises Money, Awareness about Epilepsy

By Heather Cherone | November 2, 2012 12:47pm
 Nick Curley, 8, of Norwood Park, celebrates skating 100 miles to raise money for the Danny Did Foundation, which seeks to increase awareness about epilepsy and to raise money to fight the disease.
Nick Curley, 8, of Norwood Park, celebrates skating 100 miles to raise money for the Danny Did Foundation, which seeks to increase awareness about epilepsy and to raise money to fight the disease.
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Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

NORWOOD PARK — Nick Curley’s legs are tired.

A few days after finishing a four-month-long effort to skate 100 miles and raise nearly $16,000 for the Danny Did Foundation, the Norwood Park 8-year-old said he was happy and relieved to have met his goal.

“It wasn’t too easy at the beginning,” Nick said. “But finishing was pretty cool.”

The Danny Did Foundation raises money and awareness about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, which killed 4-year-old Danny Stanton in December 2009.

Nick came up with the idea for the 100-mile skate after completing a track-a-thon at school last year, and attending other fundraisers for the foundation, said Laura Curley, Nick’s mother.

“I wanted to help someone and do something fun,” Nick said.

The foundation takes its name from the last line in Danny’s obituary, written by his father, Mike Stanton: “Please go and enjoy life. Danny did.”

Mike Stanton grew up in Rogers Park with Nick’s father, Brian Curley. Danny grew up in the Edgebrook community in the Forest Glen neighborhood. His family still lives there.

Nick skated the last five miles at the Oct. 28 Chicago Wolves game at the Allstate Arena. During his journey, Nick skated with hockey stars, including Blackhawks legend Denis Savard, and was cheered on by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago).

While going through video of Nick’s skates, his mother said she was struck by how much he enjoyed the effort. A defenseman, Nick skated most of the laps backward.

“I couldn’t find a picture where he’s not smiling,” Curley said.

Even when Curley had to roust Nick out of bed before dawn to make it to a rink to skate his laps, there was never any complaining or whining, she said.

“He really lived as Danny did, enjoying life,” Curley said.

Although Nick never met Danny, his 9-year-old cousin Jenny has epilepsy.

Tom Stanton, Danny’s uncle and the executive director of the foundation, is still hopeful Nick’s effort will reach its $25,000 goal. The money will be used to purchase monitoring devices that sound an alarm when someone with epilepsy suffers a seizure while sleeping, he said.

“His parents didn't know about these devices when they were caring for Danny, and we want to make sure other parents do know,” Stanton said.

Danny started and ended every day with a hug, and loved meeting new people and getting to know them, Stanton said.

“He was involved in everything,” Stanton said, adding that Danny especially loved sports. “We do what we do because of Danny.”

Curley said she and her husband are wary of Nick getting too much attention for his journey.

“This isn’t about an 8-year-old who skated 100 miles,” Curley said. “It is about a 4-year-old who never got a chance to try.”

November is epilepsy awareness month. More than 3 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, which causes seizures. A seizure occurs when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago.

The foundation also hopes to lessen the stigma around seizures and epilepsy, Stanton said.

Nick is not done helping people and holding fundraisers, saying his next effort might be to attempt 10,000 jumps over the boards that surround a hockey rink.

“That might be impossible,” Nick said, with his mother adding that he can barely do five jumps right now. “But it would be awesome.”

To make a donation, go to events.org/100mileskate.