Sam Coleman became involved with the Abilities Network, a nonprofit group advocating for families and individuals dealing with disabilities ranging from autism to epilepsy, when his then 7-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Through one of the network programs – the Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region (EFCR) – Coleman was put in touch with parents and experts to help his family navigate the diagnosis, and now he supports other families the same way. As an active member of the network, Coleman also is an advocate of the nonprofit’s annual walk, donating hundreds of pounds of ice cream from his local Baskin Robbins business each year.
The 6th Annual Walkabout Abilities march, a fundraising event supporting Abilities Network, takes place Sept. 30. The 1.5 mile walk around Goucher College Campus, also will feature breakfast, refreshments, DJ, entertainment, prizes and activities for all ages.
Coleman’s son, who now attends Bells Mill Elementary, has parents with the training and knowledge to support him, thanks to the Abilities Network, Coleman said. Patch asked Coleman about his experience with the program:
Patch: How did you learn of the Abilities Network?
I learned about this program from endless searching on the Internet. I initially ended up on their e-community forum, a place where you can ask questions and get responses from other parents [dealing with similar issues]. The forum lead me to the Abilities Network website and from there I called them to find out more information. Remember, we were totally in the dark in regards to resources for our son.
Patch: How much ice cream do your businesses donate to the walk each year?
We donate approximately 50 pounds of ice cream a year. This equals about 15 gallons and about $500 a year in ice cream.
Patch: Why do you spend your time and money on this program?
One simple reason: I love my son. His diagnoses of epilepsy was devastating to our family. I would not wish the difficulty that we went through on any other family. The EFCR was an invaluable resource for our family and we will always be thankful.
Patch: Why do you stay involved?
We are glad to do what we are able to do. HIPPA (privacy) laws restrict doctors from giving out any personal information. The EFCR was a tremendous help in getting us in touch with other families who have children with epilepsy. So if my family can contribute monetarily to the EFCR we are happy to do so, because they can only continue to help other families if families like ours continue to donate.