by Shelby Durden
Jacksonville University Intern
Jeff and Dawn Sedlitz are a very special couple who have dedicated their time and talents to raising money and awareness for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. Their grandson, Steven, of Port St. Lucie, had his first seizure when he was one day old. He has undergone five brain surgeries to remove pieces of his brain in an attempt to eliminate the seizures. At one point, he was having over 100 seizures a day. He is still on medication and has seizures daily. Because of these events, they were inspired to spend past five years learning more about epilepsy than they ever thought possible.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It is one of those challenges that turns your world upside down and causes you to question your faith and everything else you hold dear. Ultimately it’s the way we overcome these challenges that is most important.
In the summer of 2014 Jeff Sedlitz who is the president of St. Johns Professional Alliance contacted the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida and said he and professional alliance wanted to do something to raise awareness for, however they had no idea the extent he and wife Dawn would go to make their idea a reality. In November, 2014 the first annual SJPA Chili cook off raised over $3,000 from 100’s of guests who came far and wide to be a part of the event. This year the Chili Cook was held on Saturday, November 14th and raised over $10,000, more than triple from what was raised last year! Because of this annual event, Jeff & Dawn inspired others to volunteer and plan events for the foundation. The foundation was able to gain over 30 new volunteers at this past event.
Working together with foundation staff and volunteers, Jeff & Dawn also lend a helping hand or a sympathetic ear to others dealing with epilepsy. It is crucial to bring more awareness to the community about Epilepsy and to help remove the stigma associated with it. Personal stories, like that of the Sedlitz’s, help bring awareness & support to the cause. While going out and promoting the event to local businesses and telling their story, they were able to find a free place to have the event, as well as recruit over 50 volunteers. One of the volunteers they got for the event, Jeff Hennessy, was able to talk about his epilepsy to his peers for the first time after hearing their story. This made a lasting impact on everyone that was in attendance at this event.
Jeff Sedlitz has made a lasting impact on the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida and helped many families throughout the Jacksonville area. On April 17th HandsOn Jacksonville is honored to be awarding him with the HandsOn Health Award in order to acknowledge all of the hard work and time that he has put in.
Jeff is receiving the 2016 HandsOn Health Award. Join Jeff and other volunteers who are making a difference in our community at Celebrate GOOD on Sunday, April 17, 2016 from 2-6 at Friendship Fountain. Register for free admission at celebrategood.org