Run/walk Saturday in Richland to raise awareness about epilepsy

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJune 10, 2013 

Patty Carey, whose son Brett, 27, right, has epilepsy, has organized Saturday’s Northwest Run/Walk for Epilepsy 2013.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald

Tammy Stoflet's son had his first known seizure in kindergarten. Patty Carey's son was a teen.

Joe Bartnik was an adult, in his 20s.

They're among the millions worldwide with epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder that's characterized by seizures. It can affect people of all ages, and it looks different in different people.

For example, some seizures are obvious, involving stiffening and then jerking of limbs, and others involve staring blankly for a moment or two.

While epilepsy can seem scary, Stoflet emphasized people shouldn't be afraid of those who have it. "They're normal," just like everybody else, the Kennewick mom told the Herald last week in a joint interview with Carey and Bartnik.

The trio is teaming up to promote the one-mile run/walk and 5K run this Saturday in Richland aimed at raising awareness.

The Northwest Run/Walk for Epilepsy is at Jefferson Park off George Washington Way at Symons Street. It's sponsored by Epilepsy Foundation Northwest and is one of several epilepsy walks planned around the Northwest that day. The Arc of Tri-Cities is helping coordinate the local walk, now in its third year.

"The big (message) is come out, check out that our families aren't that different." said Carey of Richland, who works for The Arc and is the run/walk's lead organizer.

Information about epilepsy and about resources for local families will be available.

The cost is $25, with money raised going toward training sessions for local businesses and community groups on epilepsy. The public doesn't always know what to do when someone has a seizure, and the training can help, Carey said.

Her son, who now is 27, used to have seizures lasting around 20 minutes. He now has a vagus nerve stimulator that's helped control them.

Stoflet's son, now 10, had brain surgery in fall 2011 and hasn't had any known seizures since.

For Bartnik, 40, of Kennewick, brain surgery didn't totally rid him of seizures. He talked about some the challenges he's faced -- from expensive medication to feelings of isolation.

Along with building awareness, the walk also is a way for local families touched by epilepsy to make connections, the trio said.

"Come out to support each other and to support others," Bartnik said. "Please come out to support and help."

More information:

-- People can sign up now for the run/walk at www.nwrunwalk.org/tri-cities.

-- Registration also will be available the day of the event.

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