Jackie Turner, who has served as a school resource officer for several schools in Laurens County and is currently assigned by the Clinton Police Department to Eastside Elementary in Clinton, has spent part of her career in law enforcement ensuring the safety of children.
Now, she’s working to make sure her son, Caleb, can live safely after the 16-year-old was diagnosed with epilepsy.
This Saturday, the Turners along with friends and family have organized a “Duck Hunt” for Jeep enthusiasts, car show and other activities at Laurens County Park as a fundraiser. The fundraiser is to raise money to offset travel and medical expenses and for a service dog to help detect potential seizures.
The event is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and will feature the “Duck Hunt” will have Jeep drivers go in search of the rubber ducks they routinely leave for one another at their vehicles.
“We’ve had a lot of people from all over – people here and from places like Augusta – say they plan on coming,” Turner said. “They said they don’t care about the prizes. They just want to help.”
Caleb, an honor roll student and rising junior at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Enoree, was diagnosed with a seizure disorder as an infant, but that was largely controlled by medication until his teen years. Doctors continued to find the right medications and the right dosages, but then the worst of his seizures occurred during a hospital visit this past October.
“He was down for 18 minutes,” his mother recalled. “Five-to-eight minutes is called an emergency situation. . . . He toughed that out and started getting better.”
Still, the seizures continued – once as many as 34 in a six-hour stretch – and he had never been diagnosed with epilepsy.
So, Turner started to try and find help outside of the Upstate, and that research led her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Doctors there agreed to take on his case. Within weeks, the family was in frigid Minnesota.
Since then, they have returned to Minnesota for follow-up and will be there again this summer when Caleb will spend four weeks in intensive care as doctors will embark on a “brain-mapping” procedure that will help pinpoint where the majority of the seizures are originating.
If they can locate that area, doctors can place an implant in the region of the brain to cut down of potentially nullify the seizures.
“One patient has had zero seizures since the surgery and 80% of patients have 50% less seizures, so we’re looking forward to him getting some relief, and have that surgery, Mayo isn’t going to give up. They will keep doing research and, hopefully, one day find out what they can do ”
Turner said travel and four weeks in Minneapolis will cost around $6,000 for herself and her husband, Edward. A service dog to help detect seizures will cost from $15,000-$50,000 due to the extensive training it must undergo, and those are the reasons behind the fundraiser.
A bevy of local businesses have signed on to help provide prizes for the car show and duck hunt, while numerous individuals have donated gift cards, Turner said.
The seizures have taken a toll on Caleb and his teen years, she said. Getting a driver’s license, a rite of passage among American teens, hasn’t been possible, and he has eschewed some other activities.
Even so, Turner said she has been amazed by his resilience and attitude.
“He reminds me every day that God sends us through journeys,” she said. “It’s things that give us lessons and help us on the other side. When I get down and upset and just exhausted, he says, ‘Everything is OK, Mom, I will be OK.’ And that’s just a blessing to have a child who has that much positivity and strength and belief in God that we are going to be OK on the other side of this.”