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Texas Siblings Share Epilepsy Message on Capitol Hill

Elizabeth Espinoza and Mark Williams Named National Epilepsy Spokespersons

WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Elizabeth Espinoza and Mark Williams, siblings from Hutto, TX will travel to Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 29 through Tuesday, March 31, 2009 to meet with congressional leaders and gain their support for epilepsy public health programs and more research toward a cure for epilepsy as part of the seventh annual Kids Speak Up! event.

Espinoza, 15, and Williams, 7, are two of 44 young people with epilepsy participating in Kids Speak Up!, a national program coordinated by the Epilepsy Foundation with support from Abbott. The program rallies young ambassadors with epilepsy between the ages of 7 and 16 to advocate for the more than 3 million Americans living with the condition.

"Elizabeth and Mark were selected to participate in Kids Speak Up! to represent the approximately 350,000 children under the age of 15 who are affected by the condition. They are ideal candidates because each of them has overcome difficult challenges while living with epilepsy. Their courage is an inspiration to us all," said Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation.

According to their mother Sarah Williams, the siblings inherited the condition from her side of the family. Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in children and the third most common in adults after stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Despite modern therapy, about one million people in the U.S. continue to experience seizures or significant side effects from treatment for their epilepsy.

It is rare for siblings to have epilepsy, said Sindi Rosales, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation Central & South Texas. That was one reason the national foundation chose the Williams family to represent the regional chapter's 120,000 people in 79 Central and South Texas counties with epilepsy. The fact that there were two children with epilepsy in the same family is compelling," Rosales said.

Epilepsy imposes an annual economic burden of $15.5 billion on the nation in associated health care costs and losses in employment, wages and productivity.

For further information about epilepsy or to speak with the Williams family, please contact Kisha James at 301-918-3768 or e-mail

About the Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The Foundation's goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and prevent, control and cure epilepsy through services, education, advocacy and research, so not another moment is lost to seizures. For additional information, please visit

About Abbott

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 60,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

SOURCE Epilepsy Foundation
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