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Commentary - Support Epilepsy Foundation

Living with epilepsy can be challenging to say the very least. Whether you are a parent of a child with seizures or an adult with seizures, you know about the struggle with epilepsy.

Living with epilepsy can be challenging to say the very least. Whether you are a parent of a child with seizures or an adult with seizures, you know about the struggle with epilepsy.

The Stroll for Epilepsy events have been planned and organized to show support for the 60,000 people in Minnesota and North Dakota living with epilepsy - and the countless others that care for and about them. Stroll for Epilepsy events will be held in Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester, the Twin Cities, and Fargo/Moorhead on August 13 in an effort to raise $270,000.

Proceeds from these events will go to programs that help educate, connect and empower people affected by seizures. Dollars raised in each community stay in that community to provide epilepsy awareness programs.

I had my first seizure at 30 years old in 2002, which left me with two dislocated and fractured shoulders. I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy in November of 2004 after having another serious grand mal seizure. I am happy to report after many doctors and four medications, I am on one anti-seizure medication and have completed another full year without a seizure. So that makes it more than four years of being seizure free.

Now on to my little girl, Hannah. In May 2005, Hannah was diagnosed with epilepsy and was having anywhere from 50 to 100 absence seizures a day. She has had her ups and downs like any normal 5 year old. After six different medications, we are excited to say that it has been almost a year without a seizure. She still has her good and bad days but maybe she has turned a corner. We can only hope.

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My oldest sister, Missy, was diagnosed with epilepsy as a young child and suffered from frequent absence seizures and occasional tonic clonic seizures. We're happy to say that she has been seizure free for more than 12 years and no longer requires medication.

My younger sister, Barb, was diagnosed in late 2003 after both absence and tonic clonic seizures occurred. She is still battling to get them completely under control.

I also continue my work with the Minnesota Epilepsy Foundation and in our six years with the foundation we have raised more than $30,000.

I also submitted an entry again this year in the foundation's writing contest and I was a Judges Choice winner for the second straight year. My entry was titled "Am I Normal?" The entry was about how good and bad experiences can come from something that is life changing and the effect it has on people.

I also was named a volunteer educator for the Alexandria area for the foundation. I go around to schools and different organizations and do epilepsy workshops. I have done five so far and am excited to get the word out on epilepsy and to educate as many people as I can.

Every day is a battle for our family as well as any family living with epilepsy. However, advances are being made constantly and new medications are being made available. We believe that the outlook is good and that someday people will at least be able to understand how epilepsy can affect everyone. And maybe one day there will be a cure.

My challenge is this: I am urging you to put your support behind the recommendations of the Epilepsy Foundation: $10 million for the CDC Epilepsy Program to help nurses, teachers, law enforcement and other first responders learn how to recognize and treat people who have seizures; $4 million for HRSA Project Access, which helps families with children with epilepsy in underserved communities to access good and timely medical care; and $160 million for NIH epilepsy research, which will help unravel the mystery of the disease, prevent its development and stop sudden unexplained death from epilepsy (SUDEP).

With your support we can make America, and our community, a better place for the 3 million American families affected by epilepsy. We're hoping for a nice big crowd to come out and support this event. It's a time to be together, raising some much needed funding, offer support to each other and have fun, too.

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    The Stroll for Epilepsy will take place Thursday, August 13 at Lake George Municipal Complex, 1101 7th Street South, St. Cloud. For registration information, call (320) 424-2143. The Posheks' personal fundraising page is at www.firstgiving.org/hannahsheroes2009 or visit the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota's website at www.efmn.org for more information.

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