Legacy Elementary balloon release honors student with epilepsy

Published: Monday, December 06, 2010, 10:16 AM     Updated: Monday, December 06, 2010, 10:22 AM epilepsy.jpgEric Schultz/The Huntsville TimesThe students at Legacy Elementary School released almost 900 purple balloons to mark National Epilepsy Awareness Month.

Madison, AL – As Kim Waters watched almost 900 purple balloons soaring into a clear, cold sky over Legacy Elementary School last week, she had a wish: more research and help for people like her son Karsen.

“This is for all the people who have suffered from epilepsy and who have died from it,” Waters said to the school’s 800 students who had gathered outside for the balloon release.

The balloon release came at the end of a month of activities to raise awareness of the condition that Waters’ youngest child struggles with every day. it all started in Karsen’s special-needs class with the help of his teacher, Shannon Mayer.

Each Friday, Mayer wore purple to mark Epilepsy Awareness Month, and Waters made purple beaded bracelets for all her children’s teachers. Her daughter, Kiana, is in fifth grade at Legacy and her older son, Kyler, is in fourth grade. she also made purple ribbons she passed out around the school. Purple is a color that has become associated with epilepsy awareness.

“I want people to be aware and to bring some awareness and help to it,” Waters said.

Karsen has Dravet syndrome, “a very rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy,” Waters said. he had his first seizure when he was 4 months old.

For the first four and a half years of his life, Karsen sometimes had thousands of seizures a day, some lasting as long as 45 minutes to two hours. Dravet is a complex syndrome that is little understood, and it was not until the Waters family moved to the Huntsville area that doctors found the correct mix of medications to keep Karsen’s seizures under control.

Since then, Kim Waters has found more time to be “proactive,” seeking ways to educate people about a condition that has long had a stigma attached to it.

“It’s embarrassing for a teenager to have epilepsy,” Waters said.

The Waters family gets strength through groups such as the Idea League, and the staff and faculty at Legacy have been very supportive, Waters said.

When Mayer approached Principal Claudia Styles about holding a balloon launch with the special-needs class and Kiana’s and Kyler’s classes, Styles suggested they get the whole school involved, Mayer said.

Students could purchase balloons for the release for $1 each, with proceeds going to the Epilepsy Foundation, Waters said.

“I paid for 10 balloons,” fifth-grader Jordan Rodgers said proudly as she sent off her helium-filled balloons. “It’s for epilepsy.”

Legacy Elementary balloon release honors student with epilepsy

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