Approximately 77,000 people in Arizona, including 11,200 youth and teens, have epilepsy, one of the most common neurological conditions in the world, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona.
Behind each of those numbers is a face, a name, and a story. One of those stories belongs to Travis, a 4-year-old boy who experiences daily seizures. Travis’s parents, Lindsay and Erik Marsh, had to quickly learn about how to manage his condition.
“We had to change our lifestyle,” Lindsay Marsh told ABC15.
The Marshes turned to Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona, a nonprofit offering resources and support to those newly diagnosed or living with epilepsy and their families.
“The Epilepsy Foundation has been great in that they have a great website with a lot of online forms, seizures logs, emergency forms about how to handle a seizure, in addition to our doctor at Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” Lindsay said.
Erik said the entire Marsh family has become involved with the Foundation’s efforts to help more people understand epilepsy.
“We were able to walk to raise awareness and help the Foundation,” Erik said. “Our little guy was the front leader of this team.”
Lindsay said being parents to a child with epilepsy can be isolating, but support from organizations like the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona can help tremendously.
“Find a support system, help educate other people,” Linsday said. “You feel very alone in this journey, but we wouldn’t be able to do it without support, so you need to find that.”
Allie Anderson, executive director of Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona, emphasized that the Foundation exists with the mission of helping all people with epilepsy, regardless of their age.
“Whenever you are diagnosed with epilepsy we are there to support you,” she said. “We have online resources, we have support groups, we have a camp for kids with epilepsy, and we have our Walk to End Epilepsy, and more.”
Anderson said the Foundation is also partnering with Waymo to raise awareness about how fully autonomous driving technology can help people with epilepsy get around freely and independently without having to drive or rely on others to drive them.
“Waymo has been an amazing partnership for us,” Anderson said. “Autonomous vehicles are definitely the way of our future and it will significantly help the epilepsy community.”
For children like Travis who may or may not be able to get their license one day, Anderson said autonomous driving technology could give them another safe mobility option.
“An autonomous vehicle can take them worry-free to their destination,” Anderson explained.
Learn more about epilepsy and the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona at epilepsyaz.org.