Raleigh Mom Pushes 'Sam's Law' to Make Seizure Education Mandatory in NC Schools

A mom is fighting for parents' rights to have "seizure plans" in North Carolina schools


Published:

Image courtesy of Hafakot/Shutterstock.com

May 4, 2016, was the day that changed our lives forever. Zachary was 11 and on his way to the Outer Banks for an overnight field trip to mark the end of fifth grade and the move to middle school. At about 10:30 a.m., I got a call at work that he had had a tonic-clonic seizure.

“A seizure, what is that?” I asked the chaperone and the paramedics that were on scene. Zachary was able to talk to me and seemed okay but we decided to have him seen at the hospital.

My husband and I rushed from work and made the three-hour journey. When we got there he was talking and seemed fine. At this point, the doctor told us that it is not uncommon for a person to have a seizure and that it isn’t really a seizure disorder, or epilepsy, until a person has more than one seizure. We took this information and planned to set up an appointment with a neurologist just to check on Zach. We made our journey home and Zach was so disappointed that he was going to miss the field trip. As we all would learn, this was just the beginning.

The next few months introduced us into the world of epilepsy. There were neurologist appointments, medications, research, EEG’s, blood tests. We tried to learn as much as we could as quickly as we could. All the while, Zach kept having seizures. Some were shorter, some were longer, some were at night, some were during the day. We continued to try to work on the combination of the medications and talk to as many people as we could about his case.

As the months went on, the seizures changed. They then became drop seizures where he would just fall. He had so many bruises, cuts and scrapes that he looked like he had been beat up regularly. We had to make him start wearing a helmet to make sure he didn’t sustain a head injury but the emotional toll at a time where appearance is important was difficult. He was so strong but it was tough on him.

And, he was having trouble in school because his seizures were happening so often. He would miss days of school at a time or if he was there would be in such a fog because of the medications. And, we couldn’t let him do any activities or fun things because we were so afraid he would have a seizure.

He had many seizures in school which interrupted learning for everyone. However, we were fortunate that his school is small, the staff was trained and his classmates looked out for him. When he would have a seizure, one of the boys would get a staff member, some would stay with him until the staff member came in and the others would file out quickly. It happened so often at this point, everyone was used to it.

We have had to face the many challenges associated with this condition that included a near drowning when Zach had a seizure in a pond, but we're happy to report that Zach has been seizure-free since October 2018. We are constantly worried they will come back but we are thankful to be able to engage in life again. We are in a place now where we can reflect on all that has happened, be thankful for where we are and use our story to help others so maybe they won’t have the struggles that we have had.

We feel passionate that every school should be prepared like ours to assist a child with seizures. Epilepsy is such a terrible disease and ensuring the safety and comfort for these kids is essential. Not every school has the resources to make sure all students who have had or could have a seizure are safe at school. That's where Sam's Law comes in. Sam's Law was first introduced in eastern Texas. It's named after Samantha Watkins, who died in 2016 after experiencing an epileptic seizure. With Sam's Law, every parent who has a student with epilepsy would be able to petition to have a "seizure action plan" in place. Schools would have critical information on-hand like a student's seizure medication information, dosage and method of administering. If signed into law in North Carolina, it would go into effect the 2021 school year.

In July of this year, Sam's Law passed the House (HB955) and was sent to the Senate for concurrence (SB354). The concurrence failed so it has been sent to a committee. We have been asked to keep pushing our legislators to come to an agreement. This law will help the 15,500 children in North Carolina that have epilepsy go to school safely. It will require schools to train about seizures, have first aid for seizures and have a seizure action plan.  My son is lucky that his school has all of this available but we know others that do not.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Family-Friendly Fall Festivals in North Carolina

Venture out of town for a day trip or weekend getaway to enjoy one or more of the state's best fests.

Fun Things to Do With the Kids Aug. 26-29

Aug. 26-29: Check out a Harry Potter Movie Marathon, Seed Sorting, Hot Weather Hiking and Storytime at the North Carolina Museum of History.

Weekend Family Fun Across the Triangle

Aug. 23-25: Fourth Friday Fire, Lazy Daze, Hoop-a-Thon and Geocaching 101
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the vibrant Latin American culture through music, entertainment, arts and food. Enjoy dancing, music, authentic Latino food, kids’ activities and much more. A two-hour outdoor...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Weaver Street
Carrboro, NC  27510


Website »

More information

Hundreds of artisans from across the Southeast, festival foods, demonstrations, a kids' play area and live music highlight the town's signature arts and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Town Hall Campus
316 N. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." We will learn how to use traditional GPS units and the Geocaching App (by Groundspeak) and then...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill—a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 11 and older with disabilities make spaghetti, meatballs and a salad. Register online. Choose course #1247467.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

These programs are open to students 6–12 years old. Parent/guardians are welcome to stay for the program or drop-off. Preregistration is required. Learn about predator and prey...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124969.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Unexpected NC is hosting a Mommy Meet-up at SnickerDoodles. This event is for new and experienced moms alike. Kids are more than welcome to attend and make some new friends.    ...

Cost: Free with registration

Where:
SnickerDoodles
3721 Lynn Road
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Unexpected NC
Telephone: 99-717-7298
Contact Name: Morgan Price
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Explore the ways you can plan ahead for the heat and care for yourself while outdoors on hot days. For ages 6 and up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); FREE. Registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Plus-Plus is one shape with endless possibility. Younger kids can build 2-D mosaics and older kids can create 3-D masterpieces. Come into Learning Express Falls Pointe for an instructional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
Website »

More information

Read the story by Laura Numeroff and make brownies. Register online. Choose course #124737.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Listen to a story about Johnny Appleseed, the legendary character who's based on John Chapman, the American frontier nurseryman who planted apple trees in many states. Play the game of fruit...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a showing of the movie as Indiana Jones himself leads an expedition into the jungle, where explorers like yourself will search for the artifact: The Ark of the Covenant.  We’re...

Cost: $2 members, $5 nonmembers

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-707-9965
Contact Name: Hugo Romero-Sanchez
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Families take part in an unconventional family adventure race on a muddy obstacle course. Spectators may watch families compete. Parking is $5/car.

Cost: $30-$40/person for race

Where:
Hill Ridge Farms
703 Tarboro Rd.
Youngsville, NC  27596
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop for local handmade arts and crafts from local vendors. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate African-American culture and history with an art gallery walk, vendors, kids' activities, food and more. See website for hours.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville Street
, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 & 3:00 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

More information

Enjoy a charity radio controlled model flying event and fundraiser benefiting Meg's Smile Foundation. See all sizes/types of electric radio controlled aircraft and watch a drone...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugg Farm at Bass Lake Park
2401 Grigsby Avenue
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Holly Springs Skyhawks RC Group
Telephone: 919-270-8467
Contact Name: Doug LeRoy
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.