When Jessica Waters was diagnosed with epilepsy five years ago, she didn’t want to talk about her seizures and thought there were things she couldn’t do anymore. She says all of that changed when she went to a camp for children with epilepsy run by the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati and Columbus.
"I came to camp and was able to do the giant swing, and to canoe and rock climb. And those are things I never thought I'd be able to do again. And that was life changing for me and I knew I wanted to help people and for their lives to be changed from this," says Jessica.
Since that first trip to camp, Jessica returned two times as a camper and two more times as a camp counselor. Now 16 years old, she speaks out about epilepsy and tells others about seizure first aid in schools and for civic groups and has used it as her platform in beauty pageants.
“On a day to day basis, Jessica lives the camp motto, 'I have epilepsy, but epilepsy does not have me.' She excels in school and extra-curricular activities and has made 'giving back' a part of her life," says Mark Findley, assistant director at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati and Columbus. "Jessica is a beacon of hope for young people with epilepsy."
A few years ago, Jessica created "Cupcakes for Camp" to raise money to send other children with epilepsy to the camp she loves so much, Camp Flame Catcher. In 2013, Jessica and "Cupcakes for Camp" raised enough to send six kids to camp. Watch a WKEF-TV ABC 22 report about Jessica, "Cupcakes for Camp" and Camp Flame Catcher.
About Camp Flame Catcher
Located on the wooded grounds of Camp Kern in Warren County, Ohio, Camp Flame Catcher is run by the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati and Columbus. The camp gives children with epilepsy the typical camping experience that their peers enjoy with the added guidance of trained epilepsy specialists to care for their specific needs.
Educational programs help the campers learn about their epilepsy and discover ways to cope with its challenges. Campers make friends with other children who also have epilepsy and hopefully develop a lasting support system in their lives. Most of all, the kids have fun taking part in arts and crafts, swimming, archery, horseback riding, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, scaling a climbing wall and much, much more.