Category: Thriving with Epilepsy

The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota periodically features a “Thriving with Epilepsy” story about everyday heroes living with epilepsy in our community. 

A woman with wavy blond hair sits crosslegged on the ground outside, holding a stack of children's books

Meet Marianne Richmond

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Marianne Richmond is a picture book author who partnered with EFMN and Barnes & Noble to use her most recent book to raise money for epilepsy. She went through her own struggle with undiagnosed epilepsy at a young age, and has now written a book titled Be Brave Little One to help children to be brave no matter their situation.

Read More
A man in a Minnesota sweatshirt holds a camera and stands next to one of his photographs.

Meet Kevin Reed

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Kevin Reed is an active EFMN volunteer who will be participating in his eighth EFMN Creative Arts Showcase this November. He was diagnosed with epilepsy after suffering three tonic-clonic seizures during college and has since used his passion for photography to show others that living with epilepsy doesn’t have to be a barrier to reaching your goals and dreams.

Read More
A small boy sits with his mom in a park, smiling at the camera to reveal a missing front tooth

Meet Jacob Milz

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Jacob Milz experienced his first seizure at just 17 months old. Now seven, he has already grown into a powerful advocate for the epilepsy community. As an active member of the Shining Star program, Jacob has turned his elementary school into a Seizure Smart School, and with his service dog Bailey at his side he never hesitates to educate anyone and everyone about his seizures. Jacob has now been seizure free for three years and is looking forward to a successful year in the 1st grade and going back to Day Camp next summer.

Read More
A woman with long curly hair and a young girl on her lap both smile at the camera.

Meet Taylor Roder

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Taylor Roder still remembers every detail from the day her daughter Peyton had her first seizure. Before that day she had never seen or heard of focal seizures, but since then she’s formed her own local support group, been part of numerous EFMN events, and raised awareness whenever possible.

“I have received an immense amount of love and support since becoming so public about Peyton’s epilepsy. I want Peyton to be proud and confident in her epilepsy because it’s part of her. As she continues to grow, she will come to learn that not everybody is like her. I never want Peyton to question that it’s okay to be different,” says Taylor.

Read More
A woman in a striped shirt stands with her hand on her hip in front of a school building.

Meet Kelly Crawford

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Kelly Crawford’s diagnosis of epilepsy at 12 years old led to an adolescence compounded by mental health challenges. Now, with a master’s degree in social work and her principal’s license, Kelly is working with students like her and has the goal of becoming an administrator at an alternative high school. “Many administrators are worried about academics first and do not realize that students are only successful academically if they have their personal lives in order. I want to help make schools a place where students can both learn and be provided with opportunities for personal growth,” says Kelly.

Read More
A group of family and friends holds a photo of their deceased loved one on the Capitol steps.

Meet the Benitez-Gonzalez Family

- Thriving with Epilepsy

The Benitez-Gonzalez family had no connection to epilepsy until the day it put 16-year-old Miguel in the hospital, and ultimately took his life. Now, just ten months later, his mother Clarissa uses her energy to raise awareness of the rare form of epilepsy that caused her to lose a child. She is Miguel’s voice now, and along with the other members of Team Miguel will be walking in his memory at the upcoming Rise Above Seizures Walk.

Read More
A woman with curly brown hair and sunglasses leans against a fence.

Meet Ruth Schmitz

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Ruth Schmitz is a team captain for the annual Rise Above Seizures Walk. Her history with EFMN has led to an appreciation of programs that serve youth and adults with epilepsy. Despite a busy schedule as a student, Ruth is an active volunteer with EFMN. She has witnessed the expansion of EFMN programs and is making an impact on those programs by leading a Walk team in St. Cloud later this summer.

Read More
A man in a hoodie and baseball camp sits in an office and smiles at the camera

Meet Chong Yang

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Though Chong was diagnosed with epilepsy at an early age, he didn’t let his seizures get in the way of his education. He earned his Mass Communication:Television Production degree from St. Cloud State University, and even had the opportunity to study abroad in the U.K. As a recent graduate, he turned to EFMN’s new Employment Program for support and advice as he begins hunting for a job that he can make into a meaningful career.

Read More
Three photos show the same young girl with a house, doing a painting, and giving a speech.

Meet Abby Ackerman

- Thriving with Epilepsy

From being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder at the age of seven to becoming this year’s Winning Kid, Abby Ackerman is an example of what it means to be a Shining Star. Abby has been a member of the Shining Stars program for five years and has transformed into a role model who will travel to Washington D.C. this April to advocate for the epilepsy community through Teens Speak Up!

Read More
Young man sits in front of a tree, arms crossed and smiling

Meet Ben Stowell

- Thriving with Epilepsy

Camp Oz is not just a place for kids to enjoy traditional camp activities; it allows youth with epilepsy to meet others like them and gain a sense of independence in a physically and emotionally safe environment.

Ben Stowell, a long-time camper, enjoyed these benefits and has carried both friendships and memories from camp into his adult life. It helped him become more comfortable with his epilepsy, and as he puts it, “Camp Oz taught me the only job I have is to be myself, and that’s the best thing there is.”

Read More