When Trevor Barron of Bethel Park was eight years old, laughing wasn’t always funny. It was a symptom of a form of epilepsy called gelastic seizures.

“During the seizure, I’d get rigid for maybe 25 to 30 seconds. I wouldn’t be able to move,” Barron explained.

Those affected with the seizures can experience sudden, uncontrollable laughter and involuntary rigidity. For a kid who loved sports, this was incredibly difficult. Barron had a passion for swimming, but the harder he pushed himself, the more seizures he had.

“After having several seizures in the pool in a short time, my coaches said I needed to take a break,” Barron said.

Barron began focusing on race walking, but he was still having as many as 20 to 25 seizures a day and taking a lot of medication.

“By the time I was 12 years old, I was already on a high dose for an adult.”

In 2006, Dr. Deborah Holder came to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and into Barron’s life.

“Dr. Holder was a swimmer in college herself, so she really understood what I was going through,” Barron said.

Dr. Holder recommended surgery as a possible way to stop the seizures.

In August 2006, more than 100 electrodes were placed on the surface of Barron’s brain. With brain mapping, Barron’s frontal lobe was identified as the source of the seizures. In a precise second surgery, only the abnormal part of his brain was removed, leaving Barron’s speech and motor skills intact.

“I had my last seizure on Sept. 1, 2006,” Barron said.

Barron is now an award-winning, record-breaking race walker both nationally and internationally. This month he was named Youth Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field Association. He has his eye on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

A young man’s dream has come true at Children’s Hospital.

“Thanks to the surgery, I can really test my body,” Barron said.

The 57th annual KDKA-TV Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund Benefit Show will be televised on KDKA-TV, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., Thursday, December 16.

The show helps to provide free medical care for children all across the region.

Viewers are encouraged to tune in, call in and donate to the Free Care Fund.

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