Epilepsy Foundation Issues Statement on Indiana Basketball Player Living with Seizures

Statement from Philip M. Gattone, President and CEO

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Landover, Md. — We have received comments from members of our epilepsy community about the incident that took place during a basketball game Friday night between Cathedral High School and Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. According to news reports and feedback from the Franklin family, James Franklin, who is battling seizures and recently had brain surgery, was mocked during the game. Seizures are not a laughing matter. Epilepsy is a brain disorder, and people with epilepsy may experience hundreds of seizures a day. James is an epilepsy warrior who should be celebrated for how he has battled his disease.

When someone engages in behavior that could be perceived as making fun of someone with epilepsy, it is demeaning and hurtful not only to our epilepsy community, but also everyone else. In fact, such treatment can put people who have seizures at increased risk of injury and death. If someone is ridiculed for a medical problem, such as seizures, they are more likely to hide their illness and less likely to seek medical care or the help of others.

We fight every day on behalf of people living with epilepsy. We provide education to fight the ignorance that exists about epilepsy. Among the stories we hear about bullying, we also hear stories about people educating themselves and others about epilepsy to prevent bullying and promote safety.

Stories such as James's attests to the need for more awareness and education in our schools and for Seizure Safe School legislation. The family of the Center Grove student has expressed interest in doing something to turn this unfortunate incident into a positive and is willing to explore hosting an epilepsy awareness event at his school. The Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana has reached out to both schools to offer our free seizure education and trainings for school personnel and students. 

We are working with our network to introduce legislation throughout the United States that would make certain that school personnel are not only prepared, but can also recognize and respond appropriately and efficiently to students with epilepsy. In fact, the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana recently championed a bill (the Lyndsey Crunk Act) that was enacted in the state in 2018. Approximately 15 states are currently working on similar legislation for 2019.

About Epilepsy
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.

About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer Seizure First Aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Contact Name: 
Jackie Aker
Contact Phone: 
(310) 846-9272
Contact Email: 

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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