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Honoring Robert

Tana Alexander’s Gift to Continue Her Son’s Memory

Robert and Tana

Robert and Tana

In May 2016, Tana Alexander’s son, Robert Alexander Shanklin, tragically passed away at age 28 from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) while she was on a trip in Ireland. To honor Robert and continue the fight to find a cure for epilepsy, Tana has put a $50,000 legacy gift in her will for research.

“I’m trying to do something in memory of my son,” Tana says. “I know it is not a million dollars, but it is what I can afford to give, and I feel it is incredibly important for all of us to do something—to honor our children and family members and to give others hope.”

Robert lived with nonverbal autism and intractable seizures, and his mother, Tana, constantly advocated for her son. When Rob was little, Tana demonstrated her passion for her son’s plight daily by serving as the vice president of the Autism Society of Greater Akron in Akron, Ohio, and later working with a support group in the area called Empowering Epilepsy.

As a single mother, Tana has courageously stood by her son’s side since his seizures began at the age of 10. Rob had a vagus nerve stimulation device implanted to reduce the frequency and severity of his seizures, lived on the ketogenic diet, and took numerous medications, but he still suffered from a grand mal seizure every week, as well as other challenging symptoms.

“We lived with seizures that kept escalating,” Tana says.

When Rob’s seizures began when he was 10, Tana realized that while she could manage Rob’s autism diagnosis, living with his seizures was overwhelming. Rather than remain feeling that way, she channeled all of her remaining energy into finding out everything she could about epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation became a lifesaving resource of information on current research and available resources to help Rob and her better manage his condition and get the help he needed.

Like Tana, you can give to help find a cure for epilepsy. Contact Geoffrey B. Hoyt at 860-331-1102 or ghoyt@efa.org to learn how to make a future gift.