COMMUNITY GEMS: Dayton woman educates others about epilepsy

Executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia combines interest in education and community health

About 140,000 Ohioans have been diagnosed with active epilepsy.

“And yet we don’t talk about it,” said Crystal Hall, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia.

When Hall first started with the organization as education manager in 2019, she didn’t know of any personal connection to the brain disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. But then her sister was diagnosed with epilepsy, and she later learned that a cousin has it, too.

Now part of her duties at the foundation, where she has been an executive director since 2021, is providing education and training about seizures.

“Our hope is to be a seizure safe nation,” said Hall, 50.

The Dayton native was a teacher for 24 years before returning to school to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in public health administration. Joining the Epilepsy Foundation allowed her to combine community health with her love of education, she said.

Hall said that Ohio is one of 23 states that have passed seizure-safe school legislation, helping to make sure that school personnel are trained to help students with epilepsy or another seizure disorder. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Sarah’s Law” was signed last year and named after Sarah Linardos, of Springfield, who died at age 26 of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Ten percent of all people will have a seizure at some point in their life, Hall said, and 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. It is the fourth most common neurological disease.

Epilepsy also is common in the Black community, with 578,000 diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder in the U.S. Hall encourages open and honest conversations about it, dispelling myths and letting others know there is a community – even if it isn’t frequently discussed.

Hall works to erase many misconceptions about the disorder. For example, others should never put anything in the mouth of someone experiencing a seizure. Epilepsy isn’t contagious and it isn’t a mental illness.

“People with epilepsy can lead long, productive lives and be just as relevant in the community as anyone else,” she said.

Hall urges all community members and organizations to sign up for free seizure training, which is offered in several ways online and in-person. She can be contacted to schedule a training at

“The overarching goal is to let everyone know that they have the potential to be a helper,” she said.

Her husband, Grahame Hall, nominated her as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

The Halls were married last fall, and he said her personality and characteristics were apparent from the beginning. He called her educated, down-to-earth, funny, loving and caring. Both at work and in her personal life, she finds ways to help others.

“No matter whatever else she’s doing, she’ll find a way to make it happen,” he said.

Whether educating students in a school as she used to or teaching the world about epilepsy as she does know, he said her stature and demeanor make her a Gem.

“She’s the type who goes above and beyond, helping anyone and everyone,” he said.

About the Author