Lawton teen gets school to participate in "Purple Day"

Lawton teen gets school to participate in "Purple Day"

LAWTON, Okla._Miss Lawton's Outstanding Teen shared her personal experience in helping her mother battle epilepsy, in hopes of raising awareness about the condition.

Tevis Hillis' pageant project is an extension on the international "Purple Day" effort, which works to inform others about the 50 million people living with epilepsy across the world.

Hillis' mother has had epilepsy for about 16 years. For as long as Tevis has been alive, she's had to deal with her mother's epilepsy. She's had to step in and take care of small tasks for her mother. Hillis shared that story through her platform "Epilepsy behind the Shadows."

"It's just the fact that I get to do something for her, because she does so much for me," said Hillis.

Her mother, Polly, says it was a scary situation when she first suffered a seizure at the age of 30.

"My husband said I lurched out of the couch and he had to grab Tevis and give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation," said Polly Hillis.

She would later have several more bouts with seizures and her doctors ordered her not to drive.

"I've had to learn how to drive at an earlier age because she couldn't. I just take on stuff she can't handle. She can't handle stress, so I try to take that on. She can't handle being around a lot of people, so I'll walk her through that area," explained Tevis Hillis.

Polly says she's glad Tevis is telling her story as there was simply not enough information on her disorder when she was diagnosed, and she didn't know where to turn.

"I had no idea. I was uneducated on epilepsy and certainly about seizures," said Polly Hillis.

Tevis, who is also junior class president, asked the student council to help her paint posters to show support of epilepsy awareness. They also turned to social media to get more students involved in the project, encouraging them to wear something purple in observance of the day.

"I just want to go up and hug everyone that wore it. I am so grateful and so excited to see something that I've been working for this entire year finally coming together," said Tevis Hillis.

Tevis says she no longer wants people who've just experienced seizures to feel scared.

"I want to say it's alright to have seizures. So many people are hidden behind the walls, trying not to show people that they have epilepsy. I want people to just come out and say 'I have epilepsy'," said Hillis.

During her lunch hour, Hillis was invited by Ambucs to give a speech about living with a loved one with epilepsy.

Her mother currently has to seek specialized treatment in Nebraska. Tevis says if she wins the Miss Oklahoma's Outstanding Teen pageant, she hopes to use that platform to bring an epileptologist to the Sooner State.