My name is Jennifer Russell. I am a stay at home mom and am the Director of a non-profit organization called Spotlight on Lyme QCA. Six years ago, my daughter Lauryn got very sick. She came home from school one day and I heard the bus but my daughter did not come in. I went outside and found her laying in the drive way. She was too fatigued to make it into the house. We were in and out of local hospitals and Iowa City. Her white blood counts were extremely low they told us they thought she had Leukemia. They eventually ruled that out, but she continued a fever for over a month and her lymph nodes would never go down. They kept telling us it was some kind of virus and would just work itself out. They later removed her tonsil & adenoids thinking it was holding in infection of some kind even thought the blood tests would never show any viruses. Over the course of three year journey she has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, Leukopenia, Ehlers Danlos hypermobility and many more misdiagnoses.

In reality, my daughter has Late-Stage Lyme Disease. Bitten by a little tick that no one even thought to test for, even though looking back all the signs were there. She was undiagnosed for 3 years and has been in treatment for 3 years trying to get her life back. It has been a long hard struggle. She has lost her short term memory and has had a very difficult time trying to get through school. Many days she couldn’t get out of bed, her body hurt, her knees were very painful and she was so very tired. She was sleeping 16 hours a day. Some days putting one foot in front of the other was extremely difficult. She is doing much better now. Her Faith and her love for playing her guitar have really helped in giving her strength to face a new day.

Through this journey we have come to realize that many people from our area are also struggling from Lyme Disease and Co-Infections. The need was there for all these people to connect, to not feel alone and to help each other cope. Therefore, my daughter and I started the support group called Spotlight on Lyme QCA.  We wanted to help support people suffering and their families, bring awareness & education to our area. Sadly, we are really growing. Lyme Disease and Co-Infections are very much on the rise, this is a real threat. According to the CDC over 420,000 people are affected each year. We now have three locations for our support groups, Genesis Health—Aledo, Unity Point Trinity—Moline and a special meeting for our Lyme Kids at the First Baptist Church in Aledo.  We have also been meeting with doctors and hospitals to bring awareness to the medical field. We are doing video calls with doctors around the United States from epidemic states to help educate our area. Spotlight on Lyme QCA is currently working with local Illinois Legislators on some Lyme Disease legislation. We are making great strides in our mission, but in reality we are just getting started.

Thank you for taking the time to read Our Story and please learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from ticks. God Bless.  Jennifer and Lauryn!