Fifteen-year-old Jessica Waters remembers riding home in 2009 from Camp Flame Catcher, a camp for children with epilepsy, and telling her parents she wished every child with epilepsy could go to it.
Her mother, Chastity Irwin Register, explained to her that camp was expensive and without a scholarship, she wouldn’t have been able to attend.
Waters began thinking of how she could raise money so children could attend Flame Catcher Camp, organized by The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Columbus and Cincinnati and held at Camp Kern in Warren County.
That’s when Cupcakes for Camp started.
Since then, she has raised money by selling donated cupcakes to help three children attend camp. She’s also working to raise awareness about epilepsy. The teen has been recognized for her efforts through the Epilepsy Foundation and others. On April 25, the Beavercreek High School sophomore will be recognized for her efforts when she receives a Dayton Dragons Community All-Star Award during the game.
Just before her 12th birthday, Waters was diagnosed with epilepsy, a medical condition that causes seizures. Because of it, she said she cannot participate in contact sports, tumbling, competitive cheerleading and some other activities.
But that hasn’t stopped the teen from being involved in school activities, working a job and raising awareness about epilepsy. Waters is a Beavercreek High School cheerleader, manager of the school hockey team, and on the Beaverettes dance team. She also is Miss Ohio Jr. Teen America.
Waters recalls going to camp for children with epilepsy a few months after her diagnosis.
“Camp was actually a great experience for me,” she said. “When I went to camp, I could ride horses. I could canoe and go swimming.”
For the past several years, she’s been working on sending other children to camp. It costs $375 for a child to attend Camp Flame Catcher for a week in the summer. She also is a counselor at the camp.
For her Cupcakes for Camp fundraising efforts, Waters has approached several area bakeries about donating cupcakes. The cupcakes are sold at the bakeries and at events such as health fairs and galas. Waters sets up a table at these events, sells cupcakes and provides information about epilepsy.
“I enjoying speaking and educating others on my journey,” she noted.
Over the past few years, Waters has received much recognition for her advocacy. She has received the Joan Schreck Inspiration Award from the Epilepsy Foundation Western Ohio and the Seize Hope Achievement Award from the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
“I want to live, and I want to fight, and one day I want to know there is a cure,” Waters wrote. “If I can help one person, change one person’s life, or help put a smile on one child’s face, then haven’t I made the world a little bit better?”