Living with epilepsy has taught me that there are many different organizations around to support both those living with the disorder, as well as friends and family affected by it. Each organization is supported with volunteers who care deeply about the cause.
After utilizing these resources my whole life, I decided that I wanted to pay it forward and begin giving back to the community also. So many people helped me along the way, especially the Epilepsy Foundation, that it was time for me to help others as well.
Choosing the Charity
I am passionate about helping people with epilepsy, and in fact, I volunteer often for those organizations, however I decided a long time ago that I wanted to also help another cause. I researched organizations in the Greater Houston area that focused on health, fitness, running, and exercise. That led me to an organization I fell in love with called Girls on the Run Greater Houston.
This purpose of the semester long program for girls in 3rd through 5th grade is to help them “develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.” The program also has an emphasis on running, which is what drew me to it in the first place. The girls in the program slowly train all semester for a 5K. By the end of the semester, the organization hosts a 5K run for both the girls and the public. I love the message of the organization and it pairs well with my passion for fitness and health.
Paying it Forward
I’m a huge advocate of giving back to your community. After all, so many people have helped me along my epilepsy journey; I feel that giving back a little of my time, now that I am independent and able, is one small way to say thank you to the many people who helped me.
That said, I decided this year to run alongside the girls in the 5K. I have been focused on group classes lately, so a few weeks ago knowing this race was coming up, I followed “loosely” a quick couch to 5K program so that I would not feel too sore the next day! It worked. The event was a success, my race time was not terrible, and my heart was happy that I donated my time and effort giving back to such an amazing cause!
Do you participate in activities that give back to others? Share your experience below and inspire others to give back as well!
Abby Gustus Alford was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 12 after multiple grand mal seizures over six-mos. She has a BA from Purdue and her Master’s from Northwestern.