Woman rides for epilepsy awareness

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 18, 2010

Jonetta Philebaum was biking on Hwy. 55 between Florala and Andalusia Thursday. She and her “Epilepsy Awareness” caravan are riding 1,400 miles to bring awareness to the condition. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

She began her journey on June 12 in Tampa, Fla.

Today, she and her “Epilepsy Awareness” caravan is in Greenville – each day a leg of the journey that will bring her closer to her hometown – and ride destination – of Gas City, Ind.

Diagnosed at age 7, Philebaum hid the disease from all but her immediate family and very close friends.

It took more than 30 years, but she finally made a decision to “bring the disease into the light” after a medication changed prompted her to begin riding her bike 6 miles to work each day.

“I have heard of people who said they were afraid to leave their house because of seizures or who couldn’t afford the medicine it takes to treat it. I knew I had to do something,” she said. “I needed to do something.”

Her response – a ride for awareness of the brain disorder that causes seizures. It is estimated 3 million Americans of all ages are affected with the condition.

She is asking for donations to help make her ride a success.

“For every $200 raised, medication, testing or treatment can be provided for as many as eight people in need who have little or no financial support,” she said. “I spoke recently with a man who said his wife had seizures, and he did without his heart medication so she could have her anti-seizure medicine.

“That’s why I am doing this ride,” she said.

Donations can be made to the Epilepsy Services Foundation, a non-profit organization.

Philebaum will end her ride on July 4.

“Just in time for the fireworks,” she said.