By Taylor N. Villarreal
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
More than 300 walkers turned out at Goucher College last month to help raise money and awareness for children who suffer from autism and epilepsy.
Proceeds from the Addielicious Walk to Help Family Fun will go to John’s Hopkins University and the Stroup Kids for Kids Epilepsy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports research, education, advocacy, and finding cures for these conditions.
The Oct. 23 event featured music, face painting, a moon bounce, a raffle and a fire truck.
“We have about 300 walkers so far for the race, which is a great turnout for us for it being our first year holding this event,” said Tina Stroup, an organizer of the walk whose 12-year-old daughter Addie was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy when she was a baby.
Tina Stroup and her husband Trent decided to sponsor the event this year when funding was cut for the Walkabout Abilities, an annual fundraiser that had been run by the non-profit Abilities Network.
This being the first year for the Addielicious Family Fun Walk, the Stroups are content with the turnout and plan on continuing this event annually to bring awareness about autism and epilepsy.
Three million Americans are faced with epilepsy, making it the third most common disorder in the United States, according to Stroup Kids for Kids Foundation.
“We are all here today to support a good cause and bring awareness to the type of epilepsy Addie faces as well as epilepsy and autism in general that people face,” said Elizabeth Harlan, 41, the director at DavenPort Pre-School where Addie used to attend.
“It’s really neat to see that it is their event now,” Harlan said.
Hannah Settle, 26, Addie’s prior aide for more than two years, said the walk raises awareness and support for children and adults with epilepsy or autism.
“I think this kind of event is important because it gets the word out there to the community and you’re able to support a great cause,” Settle said.
Settle is close with Addie and ended up getting a tattoo of Addie’s favorite animal and character, Dumbo.
“It’s a symbol of strength,” Settle said. “Not only is Addie a strong individual, but so am I and it just goes to show the bond between us. As for today we just hope people learn something from this event for Addie and spread the word to others about it.”
Mary Carroll, a family friend of the Stroups, said the walk has grown since it began nine years ago.
“Addie is the sweetest little girl who has this real independent spirit and a trooper,” Carroll said. “She always continues to work through things with epilepsy and she is just such an endearing little girl who leave her mark on people.”
Ashley Pazdalski, 28, who struggles with epilepsy herself and is a volunteer for both Abilities Network and the Epilepsy Foundation For Chesapeake, said the event sheds light on an important topic in society.
“Caregiving can be hard when their child is facing epilepsy or autism and I think this event is neat because it’s about coming together and supporting that,” Pazdalski said. “At most events if someone had an attack people wouldn’t know what to do, but because we are at this particular event, most people immediately would know what to do and that is really great and important to see.”
Lindsay Golden, 34, a family friend who attended the walk, said the event turned out great for everyone who attended.
“I hope people want to get more involved and see that it’s more common that what people think it is, to have epilepsy and autism,” Golden said.
The event created a good family-fun day, said Lonnie Hernandez, 61, a participant in the walk.
“It really made me feel good being here,” Hernandez said. “People had a chance to show support and raise awareness today.”