Tick Boot Camp

Episode 401: Lyme Empowerment - an interview with Jennifer Russel

1 month ago

Join us for a compelling episode of the Tick Boot Camp Podcast featuring Jennifer Russell, CEO and founder of the Illinois Lyme Association. Co-hosted by Jenny Buttaccio, this episode explores Jennifer's journey from rural living to becoming a major force in the fight against Lyme disease.


  • Welcoming Jennifer Russell and her influential role in the Lyme disease community.
  • Introduction of special co-host Jenny Buttaccio.

Jennifer's Early Life and First Encounter with Lyme

  • Jennifer discusses her upbringing in Alo, Illinois.
  • Early experiences with ticks and the initial lack of Lyme disease awareness.

The Onset of Lyme Disease in Jennifer's Family

  • The story of Jennifer's daughter’s mysterious symptoms and the struggle for a diagnosis.
  • How Lyme disease became a pivotal part of Jennifer's life.

Advocacy and Legislative Efforts

  • Jennifer’s proactive approach to raising Lyme disease awareness.
  • The challenges and triumphs in the legislative process for Lyme disease recognition.

Founding the Illinois Lyme Association

  • The inception and goals of the Illinois Lyme Association.
  • Jennifer’s role in community building and education.


  • Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention and Protection Law: Grants doctors immunity to treat Lyme disease outside CDC guidelines without risking their license.
  • Insurance Coverage Law (2019): Ensured coverage for Lyme disease in state-regulated insurance plans and Medicaid.
  • Lyme Task Force: appointed to Illinois Department of Public Health’s Lyme Disease Task Force.

Future Aspirations for Lyme Disease Advocacy

  • Jennifer's vision for the growth and impact of the Illinois Lyme Association.
  • Plans for expanding Lyme disease awareness through hiring writers and volunteers.


  • Key insights and takeaways from Jennifer's journey.
  • The importance of advocacy, community support, and perseverance in combating Lyme disease.
The goal of the Tick Boot Camp Podcast is to help people liberate themselves and others from suffering caused by Lyme disease through validation, community building, belief that healing is possible, and modeling success. Listen to our Tick Boot Camp podcast using all major podcast streaming services such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Our podcast is also integrated with smart home devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Apple TV. Ask your device to "play the Tick Boot Camp Podcast!"