National Epilepsy Walk kicks off in D.C.

Thousands attended the National Epilepsy Walk on Saturday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON — One in 26 Americans will have Epilepsy at some point in their lives, but this brain disorder that causes seizures — some are deadly — doesn’t get much attention.

That’s why thousands took part in the 2014 National Epilepsy Walk that kicked off at the Washington Monument Saturday morning. They looked to raise money and raise awareness.

The Epilepsy Foundation brought in some star power for Saturday’s walk as a way to draw attention to the more than 2 million Americans who live with Epilepsy. Rick Harrison, from History Channel show “Pawn Stars,” is the national spokesman for the Epilepsy Foundation.

As a child, he suffered from Epilepsy. Harrison’s seizures confined him to bed, and he wound up reading a lot: “That’s when I fell in love with history books.”

“It’s a brain disorder,” Harrison says. “You basically have electrical storms in your brain and it causes anything from really mild seizures to massive grand mal seizures, and you can die from it.”

Harrison says he’s happy to be at the walk, and maybe his star power can help spread the word. “It’s a really big disease and no one knows about it,” he says.

Today, Harrison is seizure-free.

Edwith Theogene walked to support her roommate Nicole Moreno. “Against all odds she still wants to live a well life, which I think is amazing,” Theogene says of Moreno.

Moreno, 29, has had Epilepsy since she was a child. But, she says, “the last few years it’s had a major impact in my life.” Moreno is in her last year of school at Marymount University and works full time. The seizures prevent her from doing things like working out.

“I’ll fall on the floor and start having episodes, which will put me out of work or school,” Moreno says.

She’s not sure they’ll find a cure for Epilepsy, but she hopes there will be medical advancements to help improve quality of life.

Mary Shriver brought her nine-year old daughter, Gabriella Shriver, to the walk. Her daughter had brain surgery and has been pretty much seizure-free for about a year.

“We are walking for her and all the victims of Epilepsy and to raise money for research,” says Sue Austin, Gabriella’s grandmother. “It’s not funded like other diseases.”

Ralph Saraceno, his wife Christina, and their 18-year old daughter Giana, are from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Ralph works for a company that markets an Epilepsy drug. Their daughter, who’s confined to a wheelchair, has suffered from Epilepsy since she was an infant.

He says they’re at the walk to support patients and the patients’ families: “Epilepsy does not affect the lives of just the patients, but also the families. And that’s why it’s important to come out.”

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