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Family takes epilepsy walk personally

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

As the events manager for the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, it's part of Gary Zortman's job to coordinate fundraisers such as this summer's second annual Walk Around Kentucky For Epilepsy.

But for Zortman, who took the full-time position last October, promoting awareness of epilepsy is also a personal matter. His 10-year-old daughter, Hailey, has the condition and now takes medication to control her grand mal and absence seizures. By filling his role with the organization, Zortman says, he's following a call from God.

"Whenever you sense God is telling you to move, basically you move," said Zortman, who formerly worked as the branch manager for Regency Finance in Louisville.

Zortman and his wife, Ashley, moved from Paducah to Louisville in 2008 to be closer to Hailey's neurologist. Zortman became a board member with the foundation in 2012 and lobbied to hold an epilepsy walk in Paducah. The inaugural walk took place last year.

This year's Walk Around Kentucky For Epilepsy event for western Kentucky will be held June 21 in Paducah. Proceeds from the non-competitive 5K walk will go toward support, education and advocacy efforts for individuals and families affected by epilepsy. The entry fee is $25 and includes a T-shirt, a breakfast and light lunch. Participants can register online at efky.org, Zortman said.

The walk is one of five to be held in Kentucky; others are scheduled for Owensboro, Pikeville, Louisville and Lexington. The organization hopes to raise a total of $120,000, Zortman said.

The epilepsy foundation's services include education and training for groups such as school personnel, first responders and nurses; Operation Outreach, a support system for veterans with the condition; and referrals, case management and crisis intervention, according to the organization's website.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

Want to go?

What: 2014 Walk Around Kentucky For Epilepsy.

When: 9 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. walk on Saturday, June 21.

Where: Shelter 19, Noble Park, Paducah.

Participants can register online at efky.org. The $25 registration fee includes breakfast, a light lunch and a T-shirt.

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