(SPRINGVILLE) - Throughout her 18 months of life, Payton Pridemore has battled epileptic seizures so severe she's on a restricted diet, 28 daily doses of medication and constant oxygen.
Krystal Shetler, of the Times-Mail reports, sunlight or just the shift in light stimulates her brain, prompting a seizure, and special care via an ambulance, with darkened windows, must be taken just to transport the tiny toddler to her doctor's appointments at Riley hospital.
Still, despite her medical battles, Payton's mother, Jennifer Terry Pridemore, calls her only child "a trooper" and hails the little girl for her courage and charisma.
"She my first and only child," Jennifer said. "I was told I could never have kids. ... She's our miracle in more ways than one. She's been on life support two times and LifeLined four times, and I can't begin to count how many times the ambulance and EMS has been called to our house. Yet, despite all of it, she does very well."
Payton was chosen in April as the recipient of the 2013 Angels of Gabriel Michael Howell Foundation benefit, which culminates with a motorcycle ride on Sept. 7. The foundation was set up in the memory of Howell, who died of cancer just shy of his fourth birthday in February 2010. His parents, James and Brandy, along with several volunteers, have worked continuously since that time to help other children with life-threatening diseases.
"When we were chosen, we were just speechless; I felt so honored for them to pick us," Jennifer said of the selection. "I don't even know what to say. What they've gone through and what they do for other people, I just can't believe it. I can't express our gratitude. It means a lot."
Payton suffered her first seizure when she was three days old, but her mother didn't know until much later what she witnessed. Three months later, the baby suffered a seizure so severe she was transported by a LifeLine helicopter to Indianapolis, where she was placed on life support for seven days.
Her seizures, which have been known to last anywhere from 5 to 32 minutes, have caused brain damage, but still, the cause of the malady is unknown, despite thorough testing and genetic blood work, Jennifer said. So far, thanks to preventative measures, the tot hasn't suffered a seizure for about 10 to 11 weeks.
Jamie DeVault, who works with the Angels foundation, said, "Her seizures are so severe that there has to be two people with her at all times, and she's fed through a feeding tube."
Because of that, teamed with the almost constant and strict feeding schedule and doses of medicine, Jennifer said the support she receives from her family is vital.
"I live with mom and dad because I simply cannot stay by myself and take care of her," Jennifer said. "If it weren't for my parents and my grandmother, I simply couldn't do this."
A real benefit
Each year, the foundation raises money for a child who suffers from a life-threatening illness. Past beneficiaries include Haley Jenkins of Bedford and Jada Lagenour of Orleans.
DeVault said fundraisers to aid this year's benefit are ongoing. The foundation is setting up booths at area festivals this summer, including those in Judah and Springville, to solicit donations."The more donations we get in advance of the ride, the more we can help the family by off-setting the costs associated with putting on the motorcycle ride," DeVault said.
Board members for the foundation will be soliciting donations and prizes for the motorcycle ride in the near future, DeVault said, but volunteers will have proper identification to show that they are legitimately associated with the local organization.
More details about the motorcycle ride will be announced at a later date.
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