The toll that epilepsy took on the niece of Belvidere REALTOR® Christi Steines caused much heartache for family members, but it also helped them find positive outlets for their energies and build lasting friendships with other families facing similar challenges.
For example, not long after her niece first became ill, Steines and other family members became involved in an annual fundraising event for the Epilepsy Foundation of North/Center Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. And years later that involvement led to Steines joining the board of directors for the foundation.
“I got involved in this organization because of my niece, Kaitlyn,” said Steines, a broker for Dickerson & Nieman in Belvidere. “When Kaitlyn first got sick, my family learned of the Mud Volleyball Tournament for Epilepsy in Roscoe, IL where my brother and his family live. Through the years of her illness, my family has always participated as ‘Kaitlyn’s Team.’
“I met several amazing people in the organization and really became aware of the Epilepsy Foundation at the annual fundraiser,” she said. “Last year, four months before her 16th birthday, Kaitlyn went to be with the Lord. My family continues to have a team in honor of Kaitlyn and support the Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.”
During a bus trip to Chicago years ago, a Rockford-area lender spoke to Steines about the foundation. That conversation, along with their frequent appearances at the volleyball tournament and shared passion for the cause, led to Steines joining the board of directors about five years ago.
How did epilepsy affect Kaitlyn?
“When she was a year and a half old, she got very sick and no one could figure out why,” said Steines, who started her real estate career in 1999. “While they were testing, she started to have seizures of all different types, sometimes over a hundred a day. Through many years of treating the seizures, she lost most of her motor skills and could no longer walk or talk or eat by herself. They thought it could be from some sort of encephalitis but could never say for sure. Over the years, she lost more and more functions and needed a tracheotomy and had many hospitalizations, sometimes for three months at a time.”
“What I remember most about helping with the Epilepsy Foundation is not one specific story, but rather, coming in contact with so many people from all different walks of life and hearing their stories,” she said. “How they got involved is amazing and the various relationships they formed over the years through and because of an organization such as the Epilepsy Foundation is remarkable.”
Associations help Steines
Steines has served on numerous committees for the Rockford Area REALTORS® including its board of directors for four years. Also, she was the director for Belvidere Board of REALTORS® during 2016-2017. In addition, she’s been a member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® (an affiliate of NAR) since 2001, and was president of local chapter in 2004 and 2013.
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