Did you know that 1 in every 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime? While that number is staggering, Garland Stansell, Chief Communications Officer at Children’s of Alabama and Advisory Board Chair of the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama (EFA) says there is hope for people with epilepsy.
Stansell saw firsthand the impact epilepsy has on those who experience it. His mother, Linda, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was around 11 years old. “I remember a lot of my young years her having seizures and the effects the seizures had on her and my family,” Stansell said, recalling that when his mother had active seizures, she was unable to drive for six months at a time. This affected the mobility of the family during the day- since his father, Thurman, was at work- and caused them to have to rely on neighbors and friends to take them places like music lessons. “It changed the family dynamic a good bit,” he adds.
“Being the oldest child- and perhaps a bit because of my personality- I ended up being a lot of my mother’s sounding board and counselor in many ways,” Stansell remembers, adding that it was an odd spot to be in as a child. He was also called upon to help his mother with seizure first aid when she was having seizures and he was at home. “My mother was diagnosed in the 1950s. As far as treatment, medication, and overall understanding and acceptance of those with epilepsy, things have changed a good bit in that time,” Stansell shares.
When asked what encouragement he would share with someone who has epilepsy, Stansell says, “There is hope. There is still a lot of great work being done looking for cures and to end epilepsy.” He adds that his experiences as a child led him to be passionate about making a difference in the lives of others- which ultimately led him to his career at Children’s of Alabama and volunteer service with EFA which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month! On January 26, you can join the celebration by participating virtually in a livestream birthday party starting at 6 p.m. “We are excited to kick off the 50th anniversary celebration of Epilepsy Foundation Alabama,” said Sara Franklin, Executive Director of EFA. “Since the nonprofit’s founding in 1971, many people have benefited from the services offered by the Epilepsy Foundation. As we enter 2021 and beyond, we are committed to fighting epilepsy together.” Learn more about the party and other ways to help end epilepsy at www.epilepsyalabama.org/50th.