VA fundraiser

VA Fundraiser for Migraine and Headache Awareness

A VA fundraiser for migraine and headache awareness was accomplished on Saturday, November 5th, at Lexington VA Health Care System Franklin R. Sousley Campus. Dr. Dana Ionel advocated for migraine. It was an awareness-building event fundraiser for migraine and headache awareness, treatment, and education. In 2023, Dr. Ionel was a part of the ACT Now: The Advocacy Connection Team Training Program for Fellows and Patients. At the time, she was a headache fellow. As her advocacy project for the program, Dr. Ionel helped write an informative article about the phases of migraine.

Additionally, she led a walk/run/relax event for the VA in Kentucky. Post-event, Miles for Migraine interviewed Dr. Ionel about the incredible event she spearheaded. 

A little bit about Dr. Dana Ionel

“I am an adult neurologist and headache specialist in Lexington, Kentucky. I have lived here with my husband and fur children (a dog and two step-cats!) for about 5 years. In my free time, I love to cross stitch, watch terrible reality TV, and play board games with my friends.” 

What motivated you to do this event?

“I have a special interest in veterans' headache care, as migraine is known to be underdiagnosed and often undertreated in this population. Studies have shown that combat veterans especially have higher rates of migraine and chronic daily headache compared to the rest of the population.  I've always felt it's important to share with people that migraine is a common, serious, but treatable disease. 

VA Fundraiser for Migraine and Headache Awareness

VA fundraiser for migraine and headache awareness

We know exercise is good for migraine, so I thought making a team for our local VA 5K where we could walk, but also band together to show that veterans live with migraine, would be a fun idea. Our team name, "Miles for Migraine," and our matching shirts brought us a lot of attention and allowed me to share the statistics above with many people.” 

What steps did you take?

“I reached out to Miles for Migraine to discuss hosting an event. They helped make a flyer for me to share to build up my team, and they also graciously donated shirts so we could match! I communicated with my team before the race, and we were all able to meet up about an hour before the race to get to know each other a little, take a team picture, and start the walk together!”

What are some highlights from the event?

“My team was the biggest at the race which was so awesome to see! We got compliments on our shirts and our team name (although I can't take credit for that!), so it was great to raise awareness even just by people seeing our outfits and asking for more information. My favorite thing about our team was the connections made - two of our team members crossed the finish line together linking arms, even though they had not met before the race. Another cool highlight was that 4 of our team members won prizes for their age group!”

VA fundraiser

How has migraine advocacy impacted you?

Migraine advocacy has given my career new meaning. It is a privilege to be able to fight the stigma associated with chronic pain, and then empower my patients with the skills I have learned. It has been so rewarding to see how my advocacy efforts have helped people feel heard and cared for, sometimes more than the treatments we can offer. Advocacy has transformed both my and my patients' lives.”

Anything else you'd like to say?

I want to say a big THANK YOU to Miles for Migraine! They were so pivotal in my early career and journey to advocacy. From the skills I learned through the ACT Now Program, to their support for this event, they helped me be a better doctor and advocate for my patients. I would encourage any providers reading this to strongly consider becoming involved with an advocacy group like Miles for Migraine.”

The VA fundraiser for migraine and headache awareness was a success!

If you would like to be involved with Miles for Migraine

Dana Ionel

Dana Ionel, D.O.

Dana Ionel is a Headache Fellow at the University of Kentucky

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