Digital Original: Epilepsy diagnosis leads to inspiration for Arkansas woman

Local News

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and one local woman has created a 5K run to help inspire others to never give up.

Sonya Gibbs is a registered nurse who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 32. She says she suffered from horrible seizures that eventually caused her to get temporal lobe brain surgery.

Sonya Gibbs weighed more than 200 lbs. before she found running.

Now at 44, she says she’s learned a lot from those darker days – especially when she found her passion for running.

“Running saved my life,” she says. “I’m telling you I would get up at 4:30 in the morning and run. I run in the rain.”

Diagnosed in 2007, she says there were no warning signs. She said her husband Cory found her having a horrible seizure in her sleep.

“I didn’t know what was going on because I never have had a seizure,” Gibbs says.

She says she became depressed and started taking walks as a way to get out of the house. The walks slowly progressed into jogs and eventually transformed into running.

“Used to be 242 pounds,” she says. “Running saved my life.”

Gibbs says the goal of the 5K is to spread awareness about epilepsy to the public and remind those living with epilepsy that they can still evolve despite their disability.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal and sometimes causes seizures.

Gibbs will also speak at the First Epilepsy Symposium hosted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

UAMS experts will discuss the latest advances in the diagnosis treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorders.

For more information about the race, click here.

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