It’s an alarming number you may not know. One in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime, that’s according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
It’s that jarring reality that pushed McAllen mother, April Flowers, and her daughter, Lily, who battles epilepsy, to raise awareness about the condition and build support.
“When she was first diagnosed, we were blindsided,” April said.
The day we met them, the Flowers were holding a training for first responders at the Hidalgo County Pct. 2 Indoor Sports Complex in Pharr. The Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas provided the service for free, teaching law enforcement about different types of seizures and how to respond.
“We’ve gone from having 30 seizures a day, to seven seizures a day at our best.” said April. “Then we finally were able to get it down to about just 30 a month and that’s where we are right now.”
For almost two years now, the Flowers have worked closely with the foundation to bring resources to the community. Last year, they became a support group in the Rio Grande Valley that meets once a month. Something April says they didn’t have when Lily was first diagnosed, adding, “if I could go back and give myself one tool, it would be another parent who had walked that path.”
The push for awareness has led them all the way to Washington, D.C. where Lily was selected by the foundation to be one of about 40 teens to be an advocate.
“It’s real cool,” Lily said. “When I went to Washington, D.C., there’s just all these kids that have epilepsy. 30 of them, they have either the type I have or they’ve had something similar.”
The Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas covers 79 counties. That’s why the Flowers push to make sure the Rio Grande Valley is taken care of.
“It’s huge the amount of work that just one family has done, that’s made a huge impact on at least several hundred people, if not more,” said Jessica Strom, Program Manger with the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas.
The work has even led them to team up with the City of McAllen, pushing to make them a seizure safe community.
“I think it’s amazing what they’re doing. They’re truly dedicating hours and hours of their time to make the community aware of epilepsy,” said Victor Haddad, McAllen City Commissioner, District 5. “Not only make them aware about epilepsy, but also taking the initiative of training our local officers.”
“People are ready. They’re tired of being quiet about it,” April said. “They’re tired of not knowing what to do and being afraid of it. We’re making massive leaps and bounds.”
The Flowers were nominated by a CBS 4 News viewer. If you have someone you would like to highlight for their acts of kindness in our ‘Hometown Heroes’ segment, email Nicole Hickl at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her through Facebook.