Jimmy Chester has watched "We Were Soldiers," one of his favorite movies, countless times. For the 17-year-old, being a soldier in the U.S. Army is a vital dream that he feared he would have to abandon when doctors diagnosed him with epilepsy two years ago.
In 2005, an employee at Stockbridge High School notified Jimmy's mother, Margaret, that something was wrong with the outgoing young man. Jimmy was suffering from petit mal seizures, or absence seizures, that would typically last only a few seconds. They caused him to stare off into space, and afterward he would continue what he was doing before the seizure-with little recognition of what happened.
At first, Jimmy's mother thought the school employee was merely being dramatic. However, she made an appointment for Jimmy with his doctor anyway. Jimmy was referred to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Epilepsy Center, where he had a series of tests. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and that advanced technology at Children's, doctors found a benign tumor an inch and a half away from Jimmy's speech center-far enough to safely be removed. When Jimmy learned his epilepsy could be cured through surgery, he immediately said, "Let's do it."
The surgery was a success, leaving Jimmy seizure-free. As a precaution, he will continue to take anti-seizure medication for another year and have check-ups at Children's every couple of months. In the meantime, the gregarious young man is settling into his senior year of high school and serving as battalion commander for his Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) unit. Jimmy also awaits word about his admission to The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina-another step on the journey toward realizing his dream of joining the U.S. Army.