Secaucus resident Raymond Cieciuch and his wife Victoria know well the challenges of raising a child with epilepsy. Their 10-year-old son, Donald, was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of 5.
Now, the family and members of a national organization are hosting a fundraiser in Secaucus this Tuesday at Wendy’s restaurant.
Young Donald has served as a spokesperson for the Anita Kaufmann Foundation, an epilepsy awareness non-profit, by appearing on a poster with his basketball uniform that describes what to do when an epileptic person is having a seizure.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is caused by sudden changes in the brain’s electrical balance that cause seizures. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. There are over 3 million Americans with epilepsy, about 200,000 new cases which are diagnosed each year and 45,000 of the cases involve children under the age of 15.
Cieciuch first discussed the idea of a fundraiser with Wendy’s owners Lee Magnes and Kevin Woodside. Magnes would like to raise more than $2,000 for the Kaufmann Foundation.
“We want to give back to the community,” said Magnes.
Cieciuch said the Anita Kaufmann Foundation focuses on educating the public not to fear epilepsy and about what to do if you witness an individual having a seizure.
“My son, Donald, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was five years old.” - Raymond Cieciuch
Victoria said, “The support [from this town] is unbelievable.”
The charity’s founder, Anita Kaufmann, was thrown off a horse at the age of 14 and suffered a head injury since she wasn’t wearing a helmet. She went into a coma for four days and was hospitalized for several months. It appeared as though she made a full recovery, until she developed post traumatic epilepsy.
Anita and her family began the foundation as a means to help others and avoid the discrimination she suffered.
Debra Josephs, who was Anita Kaufmann’s childhood best friend, is now the executive director of the foundation. Josephs will attend the fundraiser.
“We are happy to educate anyone who is interested in seizure first aid, it’s as important as all other first aid trainings,” said Josephs. “Our goal is to empower people with epilepsy.”
The event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Diners can enjoy great food, participate in a raffle to win an autographed football by #22 Giants Running Back David Wilson, have the opportunity to meet former Giants Center Bart Oates, and get a chance to meet Miss NJ National US 2012 Marie Ventrone, who has epilepsy.
Wendy’s is located at 16 Meadowlands Parkway. Raffle tickets will be available at the Wendy’s on Tuesday, April 9 for the fundraiser.
For further information about epilepsy and The Anita Kaufmann Foundation visit www.akfus.org/ or contact Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at email@example.com