North Warren girl boosts schoolmates' awareness of epilepsy

CHESTERTOWN - Alex Nuwer, a 13-year old honor student at North Warren Central School, is concerned that youth and adults don't know enough about a medical condition that effects 2.7 million Americans.

This week, she launched a mission at her school to raise awareness about epilepsy - a term which encompasses various seizure disorders from many known and unknown causes, she said in an interview Monday.

"People need to understand it's not a disease, and they can't catch it from you," she said with a smile. "The seizures are caused by an abnormal burst of electricity in a person's body, and if people see someone having one, they shouldn't be afraid, but they should make sure help is available."

Alex knows about seizures first-hand. At age 11, after having several seizures, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Encephalopathy - a rare form of epilepsy caused by one's thyroid being attacked by antibodies.

Friday, Alex and several friends - including Bill Gardner and Mary Oberdorf of the North Warren Emergency Squad - passed out information on seizure disorders to students to help boost their awareness, along with purple ribbons, a symbol of support for those with the condition.

Alex said that her mother and father, Laurie and David Nuwer - and her siblings Erica and Gage - earlier had helped cut and glue the ribbons, numbering more than 300.

Laurie Newer said that Alex designed the informational flyers, which include Alex's personal experience with the disorder, and that Nicole and John Howe produced them on their computer and folded about 250 of them for distribution amongst students and the public.

While the materials were being distributed Friday, North Warren teachers were wearing T-shirts that showed support for this educational campaign.

Emblazoned with the slogan "Epilepsy Awareness - Talk about it," the T-shirts were funded by Laurie's mother-in-law.

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