TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Sam’s Law is a new law in Texas requiring public school employees to be trained in seizure recognition and response.
It was started in East Texas and now it’s getting the attention of other states, which is what those who started it hoped for.
Paul St. Pierre,12, was diagnosed with epilepsy in February and his mother started looking for information on the condition.
She came across Sam’s Law and Shari Dudo, the driving force behind it.
“I was looking for information and came across Shari and contacted her,” said Colleen Quinn, Paul St. Pierre’s mother. “She explained how she was working on Sam’s Law in Sam’s honor and at that point she suggested to me I try to do the same thing in New Jersey and call it Paul’s Law.”
Dudo was excited to help.
“I remembered what representative Clardy said about how he wanted Sam’s Law to be a blueprint for the nation,” said Dudo. “So, I told her go to samslaw.org, copy House Bill 684 (now known as Sam’s Law) take it to your senator and say this is what Texas did we need to do the same and she did and he agreed.”
Dudo is hoping the law can be used to eventually create a seizure smart country for students and adults alike.
“They’re probably going to tweak it for their state and that’s fine, but most of the work has been done by representative Clardy and Texas,” said Dudo. “It’s a blueprint that other sates can use so they can do the same in their state.”
“It was shocking actually, because a lot of people have epilepsy in New Jersey,” said St. Pierre. “We’re trying to make teachers know what to do when a seizure is happening so that kids can feel more safe in schools.”
“Senator Beach was very receptive to the idea,” said Quinn. “He had been a teacher in the past and actually had the experience of having a student have a seizure and was unsure of what to do himself, so he was extremely receptive.”
Throughout it’s legislative journey, Sam’s Law didn’t receive any negative votes and Quinn said she expects the same for Paul’s Law.
“I don’t anticipate any opposition at all. The feedback we’ve gotten on my son’s Facebook page is nothing but positive,” said Quinn. “The fact it’s free education that can save lives is a wonderful thing. I cant anticipate any negativity.”
Quinn said with Dudo’s help, her son is now empowered to make history.
“Initially it was a pretty devastating diagnosis and he was pretty upset and sad,” said Quinn. “Now, he’s taken what is a pretty tragic situation and turned it around and he seems very empowered by this. He continues to talk about how hes going to help 12,000 kids in the state of New Jersey and I’m very proud of him but we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for meeting Shari.”
Dudo said she’s just as proud.
“He has a sense of empowerment now and a sense of being able to help other children that have the same condition he does and it’s really helped him with his epilepsy,” said Dudo. “He is able to advocate. Other children look at him and say he’s doing okay, I can be okay. I’m very proud of him taking what could be a devastating blow and using it to help other people and himself.”
Dudo said now that Sam’s Law was successfully passed in Texas, her next goal is to make Sam’s Law a nationwide initiative.
“We have advocates in North Carolina, Massachusetts, California is getting organized,” said Dudo. “Our goal in this is a nation wide education because every child deserves a seizure smart school, no matter what state their in.”
Dudo has partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas to bring a “Walk to End Epilepsy” to Tyler.
The walk takes place on September 7 from 10:30-11 a.m. and registration opens at 8:30.
For all the information on the walk, click here.
Dudo hopes the walk is as fun as it is informational for those who attend.
“You’re not alone. Reach out to me, to the Epilepsy Foundation — there are a lot of people in East Texas that have epilepsy that are here to support you. Don’t ever feel you’re alone or that there’s no help for you, because there is,” said Dudo. “Epilepsy is not rare, it’s just hidden.”