From the moment you find out you’re expecting, it is every parent’s dream to have a healthy baby. It was mine, and it appeared I had received just what I was wishing for until my son, Griffin, had a cluster of tonic-clonic seizures when he was just 14 months old. After five days in the hospital and a diagnosis of epilepsy, it seemed my dream had vanished into thin air and I was left wondering, why him, and why me?
I’m not the only parent of a child with epilepsy who has wondered this same thing, and that is one of the reasons I got involved in The Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia (EFGA). I wanted answers, I wanted to talk to other parents who had the same questions and fears that I did, and ultimately, I wanted to help. The EFGA has offered me all those opportunities and more, so when I was recently asked to serve as the next Board Chair, I eagerly accepted.
The EFGA already has so many wonderful programs that serve many of the 150,000 Georgians living with epilepsy. This organization educates the public and schools about seizure first aid and advocates for the rights of patients. Our drug assistance program helps pay for vital medications for those who have lost their jobs or health insurance. We also help send children with epilepsy to camp every summer. For many of these kids, this program provides them with their first opportunity to experience the joy of summer camp in a safe and accepting environment.
Even though we already serve so many Georgians in need, it is time to roll up our sleeves a little further. There is still much work to be done, and we need your help! For example, we want to expand our current programs to assist more people. In addition, The Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia will be joining the debate concerning upcoming state and national legislation regarding medical cannabis. This discussion is important for those with epilepsy because of the possibility of more treatment opportunities for patients for whom traditional care is insufficient. Greater funding and research will be critical, and your voice matters.
It is an exciting time for me, for my son, and for all of us who will not let epilepsy control or define us. Please join us as we take on this challenge together.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Bonnie Terwilliger Leadbetter