Basketball Showman “Mighty Mike” Simmel Reminds Families that Epilepsy is a Balancing Act November is Epilepsy Awareness Month Kids with epilepsy are not alone but it may not feel that way. While it is estimated that epilepsy currently affects more than 326,000 children under the age of 15 in the U.S. , feelings of isolation or loss of self-esteem are common. “Mighty Mike” Simmel, a professional basketball player with the stunt team Harlem Wizards, knows firsthand what it feels like to grow up with epilepsy he was diagnosed at age 2, and as a child, he recalls feeling self-conscious about not being able to participate in some of the same activities other children could. As a tool to help his son develop his motor skills and build confidence, Mike’s dad gave him a basketball at age 7 which became his passion and ultimately his career. Off the court, Mike has long been a national spokesman to raise awareness about epilepsy, meeting with children at Epilepsy Foundation special needs camps across the country. To help kick-off Epilepsy Awareness Month, Mighty Mike will be available for interviews on Thursday, November 1, 2007, to discuss his: Personal journey with epilepsy and the importance of finding a treatment balance (diet, sleep, exercise, medication) Experiences as a basketball player including: How he began to play, the confidence he developed through his time on the court, and his current role as a player for the stunt-basketball team the Harlem Wizards. “Bounce out the Stigma” program for young children. You can watch Mike in action at
About Epilepsy Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. , thirty percent of whom are children under the age of 18. A seizure is caused by a brief, strong surge of electrical activity involving part or all of the brain. When a person has two or more seizures without a clear cause, it’ s considered to be epilepsy. A large number of children and adults have undetected or untreated epilepsy. Roughly 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Adolescence is a time of increased risk of seizure onset or changes in seizure patterns. Though epilepsy can develop in any person at any age, children and young adults face the highest rates of incidence, and epilepsy is for many a lifelong condition. Talent/ Guest “Mighty” Mike Simmel Mike Simmel is a national spokesman for epilepsy awareness and professional stunt-basketball player for the Harlem Wizards. He speaks annually and performs at the Epilepsy Foundation of America’s Kids Speak Up and US Public Policy Institute in Washington DC . He routinely donates his time and talents encouraging and advocating for people, especially children, who have epilepsy and other disabilities. Bounce out the Stigma program The Bounce out the Stigma Program TM was developed after Simmel experienced setbacks of his own due to epilepsy. It is a youth outreach campaign geared toward giving all children the chance to use an activity they love as a vehicle to overcome the obstacles in life. The purpose is for children with epilepsy and other disabilities to gain the confidence they need to “bounce-out” their limitations in order to empower themselves.