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The Love, Lauren Celebration

Lauren Roffers tragically passed away on October 15, 2004 at the age of 23.  She left behind grieving parents Jill and Rob Roffers, a younger brother Jared, grandparents, and a 3 year old son Christian. Lauren's mother, Jill Roffers, decided that she couldn't let Lauren's birthday pass this year without a celebration. As Lauren's grandfather, Bill, told us:

Since Lauren was a little girl her birthdays were pretty big days. No matter what kind of party she had she would always come around the next day with a plan for the next year and a new gift list. It became so annoying that her parents made a new rule that she could not talk about her next birthday until 30 days before. She always followed this rule. Even last year she called her grandmother 30 days before her birthday to talk about it. We knew we had to do something special to continue to celebrate July 30th, her birthday. Jill wanted to call it the Love, Lauren Celebration as that is how Lauren always signed things.

Then Jill wrote to us and continued the story:

You think you know your kids, and what they are like, but when someone dies, people come from everywhere to share their stories....and one thing rang out: Lauren gave and gave and gave. She would give her last dime to someone who needed it. She was a feisty, strong, independent young woman who was afraid of nothing. She was gifted and beautiful, and never entered a room unnoticed. She was never diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but I think she may have had it mildly. Her death, however, was unrelated.

But my son, Lauren's younger brother, was diagnosed over two years ago with bipolar disorder. I just felt I had to raise awareness about this illness while we celebrated her life.

When Jill told us at JBRF that she was planning the event in honor of Lauren on her birthday, and that she and her family wanted JBRF materials to give out, and to give the money to support JBRF's research, we were so touched. We wanted to know everything about the celebration so we could be a part of it. Jill said:

We sent out the invitations, and let people know we needed items for the silent auction. At first reservations trickled in.......but what happened from there was nothing short of a miracle. Reservations came flying in--checks and donations appeared in the mail or my doorstep every day--and the items for the auction started to fill my dining room.

The day before the auction, some of my family came in from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Minnesota, all bearing auction items. Another friend from Minnesota loaded up a trailer with a riding lawn mower, oak table and chairs, and a stove. We had airline tickets and Harley Davidson leather jackets and riding goggles. We had gift baskets, art, Paul McCartney tickets, Packer tickets, and even rolls of sod (I guess it doesn't get any more grass roots than that!)). We had something for everyone, and the band that played for the event, Von Din, played for free.

We designed T-shirts and everyone wore heart stickers in honor of Lauren. You asked about the "theme." We are keeping the hearts and roses, and her favorite colors, purple and red. When she was a baby her Granny Pat called her "my little rosebud" and made her many outfits in lavender roses. We had 24 red roses there for her 24th birthday.

One of the highlights of the party was when Christian was on stage with Jill and his grandfather, Bill, drawing names for door prizes. Unplanned, Christian took the mike and thanked everyone for coming to the party. That brought a few tears along with the applause, Jill told us.

When Jill sent our organization wonderful photos of the event, we were curious about the flags that we saw in several of the jpegs. We found that they came from a state representative who had them flown over the state capitol in Wisconsin. The plaque the family was given read:

This United States flag was flown over the Wisconsin State Capitol in honor of Lauren Kay Roffers and the 1st Annual "Love, Lauren" Celebration, an event to recognize the life and charitable spirit of Lauren Roffers and the fundraiser for the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation".

Jill and her family decided not to auction the two flags "My parents got one," she said, "and I will display the other in my son's bedroom that is done in a patriotic theme."

We, at JBRF, are so honored to have been the recipients of the proceeds of the First Annual, Love Lauren Event. We are in awe of the Roffers and all the families who have heroically decided to fight this illness, and to turn something so tragic into something so shining and good.

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