Friday, June 17, 2011

Angels for Epilepsy - Children Can Make a Difference

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior, or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. During a seizure, neurons may fire as many as 500 times a second, much faster than normal. In some people, this happens only occasionally; for others, it may happen up to hundreds of times a day.

More than 2 million people in the United States -- about 1 in 100 -- have experienced an unprovoked seizure or been diagnosed with epilepsy. For about 80 percent of those diagnosed with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with modern medicines and surgical techniques. However, about 25 to 30 percent of people with epilepsy will continue to experience seizures even with the best available treatment. Doctors call this situation intractable epilepsy. Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. Only when a person has had two or more seizures is he or she considered to have epilepsy.

I'm the first to admit, until I met Jamie's mother, I knew virtually nothing about epilepsy, and just how debilitating it can be.  Since meeting her, and learning more about this condition, I have a new appreciation for the courage of Jamie and her family.  Daily they are faced with the fact that her medication must given at precise times, and then there is still the risk that a seizure will occur. Jamie has spent countless days in hospitals being monitored to find an effective treatment for her.  If you've ever been admitted to a hospital, you know first-hand how boring, and sometimes scary, being there is!

However, this hasn't slowed little Jamie down from being a dynamic little girl.  She does all the "normal" childhood things, and  has even (with the help and direction of her mom) formed a non-profit called Angels for Epilepsy.  Jamie gathers "goodies" and delivers them to children in hospitals where she lives, in cute little packages.  Last year Jamie was awarded a grant from Pepsi to help make this endeavor possible.  As a result of that grant Jamie and her Mom and sisters, have delivered over 150 bags to local hospitals in Georgia and Florida.  They even have volunteers in Indiana who hope to soon replicate this mission.

Angels for Epilepsy is once again trying for another grant from Pepsi.  It's not just something you apply for, it's a voting competition.  If she gets enough votes, she'll be the recipient of  $25,000 grant that will go a very long way in helping her to expand her outreach to so many other children.  

This is where you come in!  It takes about 10 seconds to vote for her.  The link to the Pepsi grant voting page allows you to sign in several ways--one of the easiest is via your Facebook information.  Then just click on the vote button and you're finished.  Hopefully you'll take a moment to do so, and help this little girl "pay-it-forward" to many other children who struggle with this disability.