Team Leah is returning for their sixth Rise Above Seizures Walk this fall and they may just have their largest walk team yet. Last year more than 50 family members and friends came to support Leah Whitmore-Hunstock, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013 as a two-year-old.
“Since being diagnosed Leah has been on six different medications and we still aren’t sure what type of epilepsy she has. The medication helps, but she still has seizures every once in a while, which affect her shortly after, but then she powers through and never lets them bring her down,” says her mom Caitlin Hunstock-Jansson.
The walk is how Caitlin first connected with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN), but Leah’s since been involved with the Shining Stars program for youth with epilepsy, and used a Seizure Smart Schools Classroom Kit to help educate her classmates on seizure first aid. Both programs are funded in part by the walk.
Leah’s an outgoing and adventurous 8-year-old who one day hopes to be a chef, but until then spends her time playing basketball, riding her bike, and of course doing some cooking and baking. Part of her adventurous spirit means she’s open to trying new things, and in 2014 that meant joining the Rise Above Seizures Walk.
“We first started walking just to find a way to help kids and people like Leah. It was somewhat on a whim and the first year was a little chaotic. However, we had so much fun and Leah loves the positive attention,” says Caitlin.
For someone like Leah, who has such a large family, the walk goes beyond raising epilepsy awareness and supporting EFMN programs.
“The walk is important because it allows all of her supporters to get together in one place. Leah has two families, and so many friends that are like family, this is the one time of year we can all get together and support her as one,” says Caitlin.