Creating a Community of Support
More than 3 million Americans have epilepsy
150,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year
1 in 100 people will have a seizure in their lifetime
65 million people have epilepsy worldwide
—The Epilepsy Foundation
They’ve been profiled in Family Circle and honored as “Health Heroes” by WebMD. But for Richard ’83 and Debra Siravo ’85, it’s all about the work they began a decade ago to improve the quality of life for children and families touched by epilepsy.
The Siravos, of Wakefield, R.I. created the Matthew Siravo Foundation to honor their youngest son, Matty, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as an infant and lost his life after a prolonged seizure at age five. “We wanted to take something horrific and turn it into something positive,” Debbie says. To date, The Matty Fund has raised $1.5 million for workshops, support groups, a therapeutic horseback riding camp, school epilepsy awareness programs, and epilepsy research.
Community is important to these active URI alumni, who have deep Rhode Island roots. URI students volunteer regularly at Matty’s Place, a local special needs playground. Freshmen in URI 101 classes learn basic seizure first aid. Last fall, College of Pharmacy students and faculty presented a medication workshop for families living with epilepsy. Inspired by Matty’s special joy for life, the Siravos have built a community of support where there was none, changing lives and offering hope to the children and families they understand so well.
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