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garavito13

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2 reviews

Review for Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc., Tampa, FL, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My journey with ESF started at one of the most challenging times in my life. In 2006 I was twenty-two years of age, I had my whole life mapped out for success, and had been sworn in as an officer with the Tampa Police Department. Then one day the physician who determined our medical clearance for the pension determined he could not clear me medically for duty. The reason; because I am epileptic. Soon after the Tampa Police Department fired me due to my epilepsy. Today this would have never have happened, accommodations would have been made according to the requirements of the American Disabilities Act, but back then there was little protection and or support for those facing employment discrimination due to epilepsy. The range of emotions I suffered ranged from anguish, shame, despair, loneliness and hopelessness. Despite having been living with epilepsy since the age of ten, I often kept it a secret from even those closest to me, I pretended I was “normal” and unaffected by the repercussions of the consequences of being epileptic. This of course was a lie, I had always suffered from a lack of confidence, feelings of inadequacy, and just always feeling different. This unplanned life changing event brought me face to face with my deepest fear. Epilepsy. One of the side effects of growing up epileptic and feeling the way described above is that you grow to become resilient and you learn to preserve. Thus, it did not take me long to decide I needed to embrace this thing I so adamantly avoided my entire youth and learn to not just live with epilepsy but lead with epilepsy. It was then that I discovered ESF and met Tom Orth. I immediately jumped into volunteering, fundraising, and exploring for opportunities to spread awareness and educate. Every step of the way ESF and Tom were there to support, encourage, and educate me on how best to advocate for those with epilepsy and their family members. I eventually became a teacher and used my platform as an educator to provide Tom and other members of ESF an opportunity to enter into the classrooms and educate students and teachers. In addition, although I knew my profession as a law enforcement officer had ended, I found a way to practice in the field of law enforcement helping and fighting for others who like me had been discriminated against. I started law school at Stetson College of Law and attended the Part-Time Program while teaching full time. This, again, afforded another opportunity for me to advocate and educate as a law student and once again Tom was there with all of ESF’s resources to help me in my endeavors. While attending law school ESF supported me as well by awarding me the 2010 and 2011 Richard Gunderman Beacon of Hope Scholarship. This award was an honor and helped me financial with my student loans. In 2013 I graduated from law school and was hired at the State Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State Attorney. Today, thirteen years after meeting Tom and becoming involved with ESF I continue to volunteer, educate, and advocate as a newly appointed Board Member. Because of ESF I have been able to rise above my disability and have discovered abilities I never knew I could possess. Prior to ESF I cowered at the idea of speaking publicly about my condition. Today I openly and perhaps most importantly proudly discuss the difficulties and adversities I have had to overcome.

Role:  Board Member
 

Review for Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc., Tampa, FL, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My story starts when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy at the age of eight. Luckily for me my condition was so minor that even my closest friends were not aware that I had epilepsy; epilepsy in a way became my dark secret in life. I led a very normal active life. I began my college career with the intention of becoming a lawyer, but subsequently determined that my passion at that time lied in a career in law enforcement. I applied for a very competitive scholarship with the Tampa Police Department. After a year-long background screening process that involved numerous psychological, fitness, and academic testing I eagerly accepted TPD’s scholarship offer. I had graduated from the police academy third in my class academically. A week after getting sworn in, I received a phone call from the doctor informing me that he would not be able to approve me medically fit to receive the pension. Consequently I lost my job. My worst nightmare had come true in the worst possible way. The doctor said that my condition was a “disability” and the department said that they would not be able to make any accommodations for me. I had never been called disabled before or treated in such a way, and now I was losing my job over my so called “disability”. Looking back I now realize that this was a turning point in my life. Before, I never considered myself an epileptic, but I was now forced to realize that I was. I was angry and realized that I shouldn’t be ashamed to have epilepsy and that I needed to fight back not just for myself, but for others with epilepsy that either had or will eventually be discriminated against as I was. This experience had given me a new perspective on life and illuminated a new career path in law. This was when I became involved with the Epilepsy Services Foundation. For six years now I have volunteered and have committed myself to this Foundation, but this foundation has helped me more emotionally, psychologically, and philosophically than I can ever return. I will be graduating from Stetson University Of Law in December and will continue to volunteer, support, and promote those that have epilepsy. I'm a living example; I'm epileptic and yes I can!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Role:  Volunteer