Smashburger Supports 5k Fundraiser to Fight Childhood Epilepsy

Greenwood Village – Ethan Widoff, a seventh grade student at Campus Middle School, is organizing the first annual Derek’s Dash, a 5k walk/run to raise money to fight childhood epilepsy. The event will be held on August 30, 2009 at Village Greens Park in Greenwood Village. He has asked several of his friends to help make this event a huge success!

The money raised from this race will go to the IDEA (International Dravet Syndrome Epilepsy Action) League, a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization, founded by parents of children with Dravet Syndrome to promote research and education for the early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and cure of Dravet Syndrome and related epilepsies.

Dravet syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a progressive childhood neurodevelopmental disorder that does not respond well to treatment. Seizures present themselves in the first year of life in an otherwise typically developing child, increasing in frequency and often severity with maturation. Developmental delays often appear during the second year of life. It affects children of all different ethnicities and geographic backgrounds.

The mission of the IDEA League is to promote awareness and research about Dravet Syndrome and related epilepsies and to provide resources and support to improve the quality of life for affected individuals and families. Their IDEAL is to find a cure.

Widoff is known for his volunteer work and support of charitable causes and organizations. This spring he was one of two Colorado students honored with the Prudential Spirit of Community National Award for his volunteer activities.

This year for his mitzvah project in preparation for his bar mitzvah, Widoff decided to organize and host Derek’s Dash in honor of his cousin, Derek Rudawsky, who suffers from Dravet Syndrome. Rudawsky is 14 years old and has suffered from epilepsy since he was 6 months old. His parents have tried numerous treatments including medicine, an implanted Vagus Nerve Stimulator, a special ketogenic diet, and other traditional and non traditional treatments. Unfortunately his seizures remain largely uncontrolled. Derek is developmentally delayed and his family struggles daily to help him.

Widoff hopes Derek’s Dash will help Rudawsky and other children and families who struggle with Dravet Syndrome.

“Although Derek faces challenges every day, he inspires me because of his positive attitude,” said Widoff. “Derek never complains or whines. The only time he is not happy is when he is having seizures and not feeling well. He has taught me what is truly important in life.”

Widoff and several friends, who are serving as co-chairs of Derek’s Dash, are meeting regularly to plan the event.

“It’s fun to share this experience with my friends, and we are learning how to be leaders in our community,” said Widoff. “It is great to see that we are making a difference for the next generation. The only way for a better tomorrow is to start doing something today.”

The students have already garnered the support of local businesses, including Dance Trax Entertainment, Mix 1 Drinks, Colorado Athletic Club, Colorado Rockies, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Shrek, Integrative Health, Inc., Perry and Young Dental Laboratory, Deli Tech Restaurant, Chris Andersen – the Birdman, Baskin Robbins, and Smashburger Restaurants.

If you are interested in helping out by contributing to the IDEA League, donating items for the silent auction, donating items or services for the party after the race, or participating in the race/walk please contact Widoff at

For more information about Derek’s Dash, visit