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April 1 in 26 – Meet Stephen Piorkowski.

Life with Epilepsy:

Stephen Piorkowski became sick with German Measles at the age of two which caused encephalitis. This illness resulted in Stephen having tonic-clonic seizures and led to him eventually being diagnosed with epilepsy. Throughout his life he has had some major falls due to his epilepsy, some of which resulted in injury, but Stephen has always persevered and continued forward with his life.

When Stephen turned 61, he made the decision to go to college and seek an education in culinary arts with a concentration in baking. While attending, Stephen ended up receiving a $5000.00 Scholarship from UCB, and completed his education with high honors; even being accepted into the society of Phi Beta Kappa.

During his time studying at college, he became the president of the Students with Disabilities Club and went on to start a purple-themed cupcake fundraiser for Purple Day. Purple Day® is an international campaign dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy around the world. In his first year, he raised $40, in the 2nd year $400, and in the 3rd year, $1,500.00. Stephen says this event could not have been possible without the support of his college ADA advisor and the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York (EFNENY).

With the assistance of EFNENY, Stephen established the Stephen Piorkowski Epilepsy Scholarship for students who have epilepsy. So far, this scholarship has had the ability to assist in sending five local students to college! These funds were raised by Stephens’s dedication to baking not only at the Purple Cupcake Event but also from baking and shipping desserts to year-round donors. Overall, one major goal Stephen has for the years to come is to continue providing scholarships for students through the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern NY and Schenectady Community College.

With four years free from seizures under his belt, Stephen advocates for epilepsy through his workplace and throughout the Capital Region. Alongside Stephens’s advocacy efforts, he attends EFNENY events like the annual Walk to END EPILEPSY held every fall, as well as Studio E, an art therapy group for those in northeastern New York with epilepsy.

What Stephen Wishes Others to Know About Epilepsy: “Sometimes epilepsy can be controlled, there is no cure, but by having enough rest and physical activity, you can often change a negative outcome you may have envisioned to a new positive one!”.

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