WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 110,000 people in eastern Pennsylvania are living with epilepsy. It’s a hidden condition that affects people of all ages.
That’s why people with the Epilepsy Foundation say raising awareness could save someone’s life. Sunday afternoon, they kicked off November as Epilepsy Awareness Month with their “Strike Out Epilepsy Bowl-a-Thon”.
It was held at Chacko’s Bowling in Wilkes-Barre.
“If you looked at everyone here, you couldn’t pick out the people that have epilepsy,” foundation program director Rena Loughlin said.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of awareness. It affects 1 in 26 Americans, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania, including eight-year-old Amelia Cruz of Scranton.
“You could get dizzier and dizzier, and your eyes can go in the back of your head and then you can start fainting on the ground a little bit or you could shake,” Amelia said.
Amelia’s mother, Katie Cruz says she got connected with the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern P.A. after Amelia was diagnosed in 2018.
“They have provided resources, transportation, they help with medication, getting medication covered if its not covered by insurance. They hold events like this to raise awareness. They just really support us in everything we need,” Katie said.
“We really try to provide families everything they need to be successful and to live a happy, fulfilled life with epilepsy because it’s such a challenging disorder,” Loughlin said.
Sunday, hundreds of people with epilepsy and their families participated in the Bowl-a-Thon to raise awareness for epilepsy and funds for the foundation so they can continue to provide free training on seizure recognition and first aid.
“It’s important to know what to do in case anyone has a seizure. We train people how to do first aid. We train teachers, and we do it in the school, police, EMS, the general public what to do and how to be a help,” Northeast Region Resource Coordinator Mary Loughlin said.
Amelia has been hospitalized several times due to her epileptic seizures. She knows raising awareness, and proper training can save her life.
“If it’s really bad and they can’t get in contact with parents like they’re somewhere, then they’ll have to dial 911 and when my parents get the call, they will rush to the hospital,” Amelia said.
Knowing a seizure could strike at any time can be scary for someone so young. The foundation helps families like Amelia’s navigate life with epilepsy by teaching them how to manage seizures and holding support meetings so kids like Amelia don’t have to go through it alone.
“They get to meet other families and they can talk to each other. They know they’re not alone, and there are other people just like them,” Mary Loughlin said.