While having epilepsy is nothing to cheer about, Tyler Grezzafi, an 11th grade cheerleader at Catholic High in Pointe Coupee, is putting her voice to good use by sharing her story to encourage others.
Tyler was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was just three years old, but has never been afraid to talk about it. She credits her parents and her small community as much of the reason why she has been able to function so well despite her epilepsy. Her parents never implied she was limited and have always made sure those who surround Tyler are aware and know what to do.
Her educators have also been extremely supportive. In middle school, the principal came in and explained epilepsy to her class, who were very accepting. Tyler says, “I love going to a little school because I have gotten so much support and the faculty has reached out and given me a huge helping hand.” Tyler’s friends all know about her epilepsy, she even has a fellow cheerleader in her town that also has epilepsy, so there is someone close who can relate. She has never been ashamed of her disorder and has always been open to conversation about it, “it’s just something I have, it’s not who I am,” says Tyler.
For her, the combination of a great support system and a positive attitude has made it much easier to get through the challenges of growing up with epilepsy. Tyler’s simple-partial seizures are controlled with medication and she has been lucky to be able to pursue her passion of cheerleading, which she has done since age 11. Her sheer presence and unrelenting spirit make it easy to see why she makes a great cheerleader. She has received two Letterman’s Awards for cheerleading and won many awards at camp with her squad. She is also plays basketball and is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and 4-H clubs at her school.
Tyler has big plans for herself. She hopes to bring her school spirit to Northwestern after she graduates next year to continue cheerleading and she won’t let anything slow her down, especially epilepsy. She wants to use this opportunity to help others understand that they can still pursue their dreams too; despite what obstacles they may have to overcome. Tyler believes in miracles and encourages others to do so as well, “God has a plan for everyone,” she says, “you have to accept your diagnosis and make the best of it. It’s hard and it’s frustrating a lot of times but you just have to have courage and you will get through it.” Epilepsy Foundation Louisiana is proud of Tyler’s spirit on and off the sidelines, and grateful she has chosen to be a cheerleader for others with epilepsy.