EagleHerald/Jim Plansky
Anne Faulk, guest speaker and who also works for the Epilepsy Foundation Heart of Wisconsin (out of Rhinelander, Wis.), and Matt Schlies speak about epilepsy during a pep assembly held Friday afternoon at the Wausaukee School District. Schlies, an eighth grader with epilepsy, is traveling to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in the Teens Speak Up Seminar on behalf of epilepsy awareness.
EagleHerald/Jim Plansky
Anne Faulk, guest speaker and who also works for the Epilepsy Foundation Heart of Wisconsin (out of Rhinelander, Wis.), and Matt Schlies speak about epilepsy during a pep assembly held Friday afternoon at the Wausaukee School District. Schlies, an eighth grader with epilepsy, is traveling to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in the Teens Speak Up Seminar on behalf of epilepsy awareness.

WAUSAUKEE — Students and staff of the Wausaukee School District donned purple Friday in support of an eighth grader with epilepsy.
Matt Schlies, 13, is traveling to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in the Teens Speak Up Seminar on behalf of epilepsy awareness. The district held a walk for the disease in the morning and helped send Matt off by having a  pep assembly.
Schlies, who has had epilepsy since first grade, will have the opportunity to speak to other teenagers across the country who struggles with the same disease he has. He will also be visiting the offices of Rep. Mike Gallagher and Sen. Ron Johnson.
“I will be telling them what it’s like to have epilepsy,” Schlies told his peers during the assembly. “I have a lot to talk to them about.”
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the disease, “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.”
Intractable epilepsy — a seizure disorder in which a patient’s seizures fail to come under control with treatment — is specifically what he has.
According to Anne Faulk, guest speaker and who also works for the Epilepsy Foundation Heart of Wisconsin (out of Rhinelander, Wis.) said epilepsy is very individualized.
“Epilepsy is very unpredictable,” she explained. “People of all ages can get epilepsy; you can get it when you’re a teenager through being elderly, you don’t have to be born with it. People should be concerned about it regardless of what age that are because they will know people who have it.”
Medication is often used to treat seizures, but in some cases like Schlies’ it may not work. Currently he is on a special diet — completely low carb and sugar free — that could potentially help.
“There are people with epilepsy who can never find the right treatment,” Faulk said. “Trying the special diet requires a great deal of dedication, especially at Matt’s age.”
Faulk said that when students who are attending the seminar speaking with their legislators, those representatives have the opportunity to meet someone who lives day-to-day with the disease.
“It’s a very common thing for representatives to understand the need for funding for more research for effective treatments,” she explained. “People in those positions have the power to vote on this issue.”
One potential treatment that is often debated about is the use of Cannabidiol oil.
“First people should know in the hemp plant, which is where marijuana is derived from, there are different chemical parts of that plant,” she said. “So the Cannabidiol oil is one part of the plant and it’s extracted. It’s not psychoactive — meaning it won’t make the person high. It’s different — it actually has an affect in the body and brain that happens to stop seizures for some people.
“When the kids and parents have been through everything that is available right now and their kids still have seizures, that’s what makes them want to try it. They’re not trying to experiment on their children; they’re just trying something else that might help.”
 Matt’s mom, Sherry, said she, along with the entire family, is extremely proud of Matt.
“Matt can’t wait to go to meet other teens that are his age from across the country that have similar issues,” she said. “He’s overwhelmed the school put on the assembly for him. He can’t believe how many people are wearing purple and put ribbons on the wall. He’s amazed.”
As for having epilepsy, Matt said people don’t have to be afraid of the disease.
“It’s a type of disease that people shouldn’t be afraid, it’s not contagious,” he said.