The tantalizing aroma of gator, deer, hog, pheasant and other goodies on the grill tempted passers-by to the Riverhouse recently for the 34th annual Beast Feast hosted by John Paige in support of Epilepsy Florida.
The bountiful game came from hunting trips taken by Paige and his friends throughout the past year. But it’s his wife Lisa who should really get the credit for the grill being fired up many years ago.
“As a newlywed, I was hunting birds and we had a little refrigerator with a little tiny freezer,” said Paige. “My wife got mad one day because she couldn’t put anything else in the freezer and she said, ‘You have got to get rid of all these beasts.’ So, I cooked them all up and we had a feast.”
What began as an excuse to visit with friends and welcome newcomers into the fold, has since evolved into a way to raise awareness and funding for Epilepsy Florida. EFL is a not-for-profit founded in 1971 that supports individuals impacted by epilepsy and helps them to manage the challenges resulting from seizures.
Paige said that when their youngest son Andy was a boy, their family had become frustrated by physicians’ inability to diagnose what was happening to him. As a result, Paige packed the family up and headed to a seminar at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., where they discovered that Andy had epilepsy. He began receiving treatment and a medication which has enabled him to live a normal life.
“Since that day, our son has not had another seizure. Now, he’s a genetic engineer with the National Institute of Health in Washington D.C.,” said Paige with pride, noting that Andy’s success today would not have been possible without that proper diagnosis and effective treatment.
However, the anti-seizure medication his son takes costs $785 a month, which is often outside the realm of possibility for epilepsy patients and their families.
“When patients receive the proper medication, a large percentage can live seizure-free,” said Marie Phillips, EFL medical case manager.
“Every dollar we donate here, the EFL can turn into about $92 worth of drugs that they can give to somebody that doesn’t have insurance,” said Paige. “I was going to have this party anyway, so why not do something good.”
Guests brought side dishes to augment the game, visited with friends while listening to music by Blue Cypress Bluegrass and bid on such silent-auction items as duck decoys and jewelry made from bird feathers.
EFL provides a number of services to the estimated 426,000 Floridians suffering from the neurological disorder, including epilepsy prevention and education, support groups, referrals and case management, medical and psychological services, Affordable Care Act Healthcare navigation and advocacy.
The EFL also educates teachers and school bus drivers, partners with law enforcement to provide children’s helmets to prevent brain injury-induced epilepsy and hosts a special Camp Boggy Creek for epileptic children, where they can experience camp life in a medically supervised environment.
For more information, visit epilepsyfl.com.