Ben Frick, a junior at Catholic High, is headed to DC on Friday, April 15, to represent Epilepsy Foundation Louisiana and the 90,000 people in the state living with epilepsy as the 2016 Teens Speak Up! advocate.
He will join teens from across the U.S. for Epilepsy Day on the Hill to advocate for policies that will improve patient access to medications and treatment as well as increased funding for epilepsy programs and research. Ben is looking forward to going to the conference and meeting more people around his age and hearing their stories and experiences with having epilepsy.
Ben’s own epilepsy story began just over a year ago, two weeks before his 16th birthday. “I had an absence-type seizure while driving,” Ben says. “My parents were with me in the car and realized that something was wrong. Thankfully, by the grace of God, no one was hurt. I was diagnosed a few days later with complex partial epilepsy.”
Even though he was disappointed he could not get his license as planned and frustrated that he kept having to explain why to his friends, the diagnosis came as a relief to Ben. He now knows that he had been experiencing seizures for a few months, mostly at school. He says, “I just kept drifting off into a daydream. I didn’t know what was happening to me and I was afraid to tell anyone about it.”
Once over the initial shock, Ben went about his business, refusing to let epilepsy change him. Just a few weeks after his diagnosis, he went with his high school marching band to Disney World and marched in a Disney parade. This past year, he also went on school sponsored trips to Estes Park, Colorado and Washington DC. He continues to play percussion in his high school marching band and jazz band, and hopes to play in a college marching band. Also, after waiting 6 months past his last seizure, he was able to get his license!
Ben walked for epilepsy at Seize the Day in Baton Rouge earlier this month. He and his team, “Frickstars,” fundraised over $1,000. Ben says, “It was a great way for my family and friends to get together, show support and raise money for the Foundation.” He adds, “Getting involved with EFL means learning more about what epilepsy is and isn’t. Epilepsy can happen at anytime in anyone’s life so learning as much as possible about it can enable us to help out our loved ones and friends if they are ever diagnosed. Before my diagnosis, I didn’t know much about what epilepsy was or that there are so many different types of seizures. EFL has been very helpful in educating my family and I.”
While in DC for Teens Speak Up!, Ben will walk for epilepsy again. This time, he will participate in the National Walk for Epilepsy on the Washington Monument grounds with over 5,000 other people.
Ben is a steady drum in the march for epilepsy education and awareness. His perseverance and positive attitude not only make him a great advocate, but also, a great role model for teens with or without epilepsy.