About Us

ESF offers programs and services that are designed to increase understanding of epilepsy, promote dialogue between persons with epilepsy, families and others dealing with the impact of epilepsy. ESF offers current information about epilepsy, support, encouragement and hope to persons who find themselves struggling with the day-to-day challenges and fears associated with this chronic medical condition. To learn more about our programs, click on the Programs tab.

ESF raises funds to provide scholarships for kids with epilepsy to attend Camp Boggy Creek, three family retreat weekends at Camp Boggy Creek and Deliver the Dream Camp, college scholarships for students affected by epilepsy to pursue a college degree and medical scholarships for persons pursuing the field of neurology. ESF also provides funding for medical support services.

ESF has provided services in the Tampa Bay community for 45 years.

ESF is a 501(C)(3) corporation and was incorporated in the State of Florida on May 4, 1973. The ESF State of Florida corporation document number is 726327. For the last five years, the Great    Nonprofits Organization selected ESF as one of the top-rated health non-profits in America.

Mission

Committed to creating a better future and environment for persons affected by epilepsy living in West Central Florida, especially children, teens and young adults with epilepsy and their families.

Board of Directors

Gary Englund - President

Financial Advisor, Certified Financial Planner, The Walters Group at Morgan Stanley. Married to Susan, parents of Brad and Kelley. Lived in Lutz for 31 years. No family history of epilepsy. We have been blessed with two healthy children and I serve to help others less fortunate than us. Avid sports fan, enjoying travel, hiking, and snowshoeing.

Karen Boggess - Vice President

Mother of a 4 1/2 year old who seized for the first time last November. She is so thankful for the help Tom and ESF provided them. Her current employment involves helping juveniles in Pinellas and has many talents and resources that would further our mission.

Scott Barry - Secretary

Chiropractor who has served for many years on ESF’s board and has now re-joined the board after several years.

Marcelo Miano - Treasurer

Holds an MBA from the University of Miami, licensed stockbroker for 26 years. An inventor in the medical field, experience with start-up corporations in the technology and in the development of new product and ideas. His experience in advertising, production management, and great organization skills bring him the focus necessary to lead, develop, and execute a plan in a team environment.

Callan “Cal” Albritton

Works for the United States Attorney’s Office in Tampa. Married.

Rachelle Rossmeisl

Rachelle has a daughter with epilepsy and works for an employment staffing company.

Amanda Stephens

Amanda works as a paralegal for Wiand Guerra King LLC.

Cristina Ferro
Cristina Ferro
Dina Vila

Works for Fran Haasch Law Group. 

Monique Scott

University of South Florida Alumni. Degree in Criminology. Assistant State Attorney at the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County. I have epilepsy and acutely aware of the difficulties others with epilepsy go through on a daily basis. I hope to educate others while serving on the board.

Dawn Ringheisen
Dawn Ringheisen
Scott Strain

Systems Engineer with E*TRADE for last 18 years. Married to Verla with two beautiful children, Lila Grace and Shelby. Lived with seizure disorder for last 25 years. Huge Alabama fan, graduated in 2000. Love helping others.

Stacy Stillman
Stacy Stillman

The ESF Medical Professional Advisory Board is composed of epileptologists, neurologists, other healthcare professionals and ESF board members. The Board advises the ESF volunteers and employees on a variety of issues affecting the medical care and support services of persons affected by epilepsy.  Members of the ESF’s PAB review and approve the answers to questions put forth by persons with epilepsy, family members or caregivers and persons viewing ESF’s website or attending an epilepsy education program.

ESF staff members update the PAB on what it is doing in the community to ncrease awareness, provide epilepsy education and support services for persons affected by epilepsy.

Meetings are held three times/year from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. at Panera Bread across from the University of South Florida.

  • Advent Health – Neurology Department – Brian Harper
  • Selim Benbadis, MD – Epileptologist 
  • Edmund Grant, MD – Neurologist 
  • Robin Abbruzzese (Board Member)
  • J. Richard Gunderman, MD – Neurologist 
  • Yvette Herrington, ARNP
  • Sergio Jacinto, MD – Neurologist 
  • Marcelo Miano (Board Member)
  • Jose Ferreira, MD – Epileptologist 
  • Nancy Rodgers-Neame, MD – Epileptologist 
  • Heather Rogers (Board Member)
  • Maria Gieron, MD – Epileptologist 
  • Hector Velez, MD – Epileptologist 
  • Eric Vernier, MD – Epileptologist 

Staff

Kathie Michael - Executive Director
Dixie White - Bookkeeper

HAPPY RETIREMENT TOM!

Tom Orth

Historical Background

Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation is established on May 4, 1973 by Barbara McNerney and some parents. Foundation is begun in Barbara’s garage and provided educational materials, information & referral and support groups. Eventually, offices were established on Kennedy Boulevard, Linebaugh Avenue, Waters Avenue, North Armenia Avenue and finally at current address (4618 North Armenia Avenue). Statewide Antiepileptic Drug Program is established. Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation and other Florida Epilepsy Providers are partly funded by HRS – Developmental Services. Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation establishes an office on Kennedy Boulevard.
  • 1973 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation is established on May 4, 1973 by Barbara McNerney and some parents. Foundation is begun in Barbara’s garage and provided educational materials, information & referral and support groups. Eventually, offices were established on Kennedy Boulevard, Linebaugh Avenue, Waters Avenue, North Armenia Avenue and finally at current address (4618 North Armenia Avenue).
    *Statewide Antiepileptic Drug Program is established.
  • 1974 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation and other Florida Epilepsy Providers are partly funded by HRS – Developmental Services.
    *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation establishes an office on Kennedy Boulevard.
  • 1975 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation is partly funded by United Way of Hillsborough County.
  • 1982 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation leases new offices on Linebaugh Avenue.
  • 1983 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation establishes a satellite office in Lakeland, FL.
  • 1985 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation is partly funded by the United Way of Central Florida.
  • 1987 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation is partly funded by Hillsborough County, Board of County Commissioners.
    *Live Music Series is established.
  • 1988 – *Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation and other Florida Epilepsy Providers are moved to HRS – Department of Health (HRS-DOH).
    *Thomas Orth is selected to lead the Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida.
    *The board approves Gulf Coast Epilepsy Foundation’s name change to Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc.
    *Victor Shumate & Dixon Smith, volunteers, establish the TAIFA Golf Classic as a fundraiser for ESF. The board approves the fundraiser.
    *The board approves Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida leasing new offices on Waters Avenue.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida holds first Christmas party in Tampa.
    *Legislature establishes Governor’s Task Force on Epilepsy.
  • 1989 – *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida holds first Easter Egg Hunt in Lakeland.
  • 1990 – *Florida Epilepsy Providers avert elimination from State of Florida budget. 80% of funding is restored.
    *Florida Legislature enacts the Epilepsy Prevention & Education Trust Fund.
  • 1991 – *Florida Legislature distributes the Epilepsy Prevention & Education Trust Fund to Florida Epilepsy Providers.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. establishes relationship with newly established Epilepsy Clinic at Tampa General Hospital. Case managers provide services at clinic.
  • 1992 – *Hare Racing Experience is established. Volunteers, board, staff and Executive Director create, develop, and organize the 10K, 5K run/walk and 1-mile fun-run for kids.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. establishes endowment at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. initiates Prevention & Education program.
  • 1993 – *The board approves the Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. to lease new offices on Armenia Avenue.
    *The Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. board establishes a committee to study planned giving funding opportunities.
  • 1994 – *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. and the University of South Florida HELPLINE Program offer telephone help for persons with epilepsy after regular office hours.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida, Inc. participates in Hillsborough County Needs Assessment.
  • 1995 – *Florida Epilepsy Services Providers become partners with Boggy Creek Camp. General Norman Schwarzkopf and Paul Newman are two of the founders of the camp.
    *Darrold Hunt, conductor of the Washington Philharmonic Orchestra, conducts the University of South Florida ensemble prior to Epilepsy Education Day. Darrold has epilepsy and spent a day with board members, staff, clients, and families. He was the keynote speaker at the Epilepsy Education Day.
  • 1996 – *Florida Legislature increases Epilepsy Services Providers’ budget by $500,000.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of West Central Florida disaffiliates from Epilepsy Foundation of America.
    2 corporations are formed by Board of Directors: Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. & Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc.
    *Transbay Charitable Regatta is established. Vic Gittens, board member, is responsible for this unique event.
    *The Statewide Prevention & Education Program is transferred to the Department of Health.
    *Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is dissolved. Florida Epilepsy Services Providers’ Association is established as the new state provider.
  • 1997 – *Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. board approves establishing outreach case management services program for clients. Case managers meet with clients in public venues like libraries, doctors’ offices, and fast-food restaurants.
  • 1998 – *Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc., Suncoast Epilepsy Association and Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida develop “Brain-A-Mania” held at Museum of Science and Industry.
    *Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc., Suncoast Epilepsy Association and Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida receive a grant from the Able Trust Foundation to implement additional vocational services in their fourteen-county service area.
  • 1999 – *Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. purchases current building at 4618 North Armenia Avenue, Tampa, FL. 33603-2706
    *Walk for Epilepsy is established. This Walk replaced the Hare Racing Experience because the safety of the runners could no longer be guaranteed by the police.
    *The Executive Director received board approval to initiate a Direct Mail Campaign.
    *United Way of Hillsborough County presents Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida with its health service award for its innovative and successful collaborations with the medical community.
  • 2000 – *Kevin Franzese, board member, involves the Krewe of Blues Gasparilla organization to plan and implement a special Christmas party for children of Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc.
    *The Epilepsy Services Foundation’s board approved participation in the Community Foundation’s Leave A Legacy program.
    *Florida Epilepsy Services Providers participate in statewide Epilepsy Strategic Plan.
  • 2001 – *ESF submits a grant request to Clear Channel to donate 100 billboard ads to Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. to prevent epilepsy and head injuries. Clear Channel approved grant request.
    *Jorge Diaz, a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, raises money and epilepsy awareness for Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. He provides tickets to our kids
    *ESF submits a request to the Columbia Restaurant and Richard Gonzmart, owner, selects Epilepsy Services Foundation as one of the charities for its annual Community Harvest Program.
  • 2002 – *The Statewide Prevention & Education Program is transferred from the Department of Health to the Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc.
    *The University of South Florida, School of Rehabilitation Counseling, completes evaluation of the Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida’s case management program. It receives a rating of excellent.
  • 2003 – *Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. board approves refinancing the current building at 5.5%.
    *Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. receives a bequest from the Arthur & Georgia Kemp Trust for $233,286.31. The Board adds the bequest to the Foundation’s Endowment Fund.
    *Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. holds its Epilepsy Education Day at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
    *ESF submits application to the Jr. League of Tampa and Girl Scout Troop 169 to plan and implement a special Christmas party for children with epilepsy. The request is approved.
    *ESF submits a proposal to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to donate 24 tickets for children with epilepsy to attend the November 2, 2003 BUCs vs. New Orleans Saints football game. The request is approved.
  • 2004 – *Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. receives an additional $30,000.00 bequest from the Arthur & Georgia Kemp Trust.
    *Epilepsy Services Foundation, Inc. receives an additional $8,850.00 bequest from the Arthur & Georgia Kemp Trust.
    *Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. advertises for a new Executive Director to begin January 2, 2005.
    *Dr. William Tatum and Thomas Orth complete a pilot study entitled “Case Management In Epilepsy: An Impact Study.” Dr. Tatum presents study at annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society. Dr. Tatum is invited to submit an article on the study to “Epilepsy & Behavior,” an international epilepsy journal.
  • 2005 – *Dan Grant is selected as the Executive Director of Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, Inc. on January 3, 2005 and holds his first Board Meeting on January 13, 2005.
    *Thomas Orth continues to serve as the Executive Director of the Epilepsy Services Foundation.
    *The ESF board approved the recommendation to hold its first Capital Campaign in thirty-two years. Donors responded by giving $139,221 to the Campaign. The campaign enabled ESF to pay off its mortgage after six years. Without the generosity of our donors, this action could not have happened. *Epilepsy Services Foundation approves funding for the Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida case management program. The funds will be used to provide additional medical services.
    *The Epilepsy Services Foundation board approved a request to partner with the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and other Epilepsy Charities to initiate the Reindeer Run in December 2005. More than 1,000 runners participated.
    *The Epilepsy Services Foundation board and the Suncoast Epilepsy Association board approved their organizations to participate in the 50/50 nights during Lightning home games. The winner received 50% of the proceeds and the charity received the other 50% of the proceeds.
    *The Department of Health decides to no longer partner with each Epilepsy Services Provider. The Epilepsy Foundation of South Florida became the lead agency and subcontracts with the other epilepsy providers.
  • 2006 – *The Epilepsy Services Foundation and other Epilepsy Charities receive a check for $15,000 from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation.
    *Epilepsy Services Foundation board approves funding to provide camp scholarships and college scholarships.
    *Epilepsy Services Foundation board approves partnering with the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Suncoast Epilepsy Association for the 2nd Annual Reindeer Run and the 50/50 fundraising program.
    *Frank Tuffy, board member and Vice President of Citigroup, and ESF submit a request to have Citigroup volunteers paint the outside of ESF building. Citigroup approved the request.
    *Suzi Mendelson, volunteer and Jr. League member, and ESF submitted a request to have the Jr. League of Tampa volunteers paint and provide accessories for lobby. The request was approved.
    *Dr. William Tatum and Thomas Orth submit an article on the study to “Epilepsia,” an international epilepsy journal on case management program.
  • 2007 – *The ESF board approves the purchase a $250,000 life insurance policy on the Executive Director to increase and benefit the ESF Endowment Program.
    *Frank Tuffy and ESF submit a request for Citi volunteers to paint hallways and two bathrooms in the building. The request is approved.
    *Suzi Mendelson and ESF submit a request for Jr. League of Tampa volunteers to paint Board Room and kitchen area. They approved the request and additional monies to purchase a conference table and microwave for ESF.
    *The ESF board approves funding to provide scholarships for camp and the Family Retreat Weekend, and college scholarships.
    *ESF and other Epilepsy Charities receive a check for $15,000 from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation.
  • 2008 – *ESF board approves recommendation to change the requirements for the college scholarship program. It will now include persons affected by epilepsy.
    *ESF board approves 5 hours/week for bookkeeper position.
    *ESF board approves grants for camp, the Family Retreat Weekend and college scholarships.
    *Frank Tuffy and ESF submit a request for Citi volunteers to paint parking striping on asphalt and clean up the grounds. The request is approved.
    *Suzi Mendelson and ESF submit request for Jr. League of Tampa for volunteers to paint ESF lobby and bathroom and purchase a new copier. The request is approved.
    *ESF and other Epilepsy Charities receive a check for $15,000 from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation.
    *ESF board approves the creation of a strategic plan.
  • 2009 – *ESF board approves 3-year strategic plan.
    *ESF board approves new medical scholarship program to benefit, medical students, residents, nurses and other healthcare professionals who show an interest in pursuing the field of neurology with a focus on epilepsy.
    *ESF board approves grants for scholarships for camp, the Family Retreat Weekend, and college/medical scholarships.
    *Frank Tuffy and ESF submit a request for Citi volunteers to paint outside doors and clean up the grounds. The request is approved.
    *ESF board approves Executive Director becoming part-time due to semi-retirement and hires a part-time Associate Director.
    *ESF board approves a “whistleblower” policy.
    *ESF submits a grant to the Anita Kaufmann Foundation to provide educational programs to 5th grade classrooms. The grant is approved.
  • 2010 – *ESF holds board retreat to discuss partnership with Epilepsy Foundation of Florida and other changes.
    *ESF faces decline in donations due to the economic recession. ESF board approves the recommendation that it can no longer approve grants to any epilepsy organizations.
  • 2011 – *ESF board approves partnering with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida to initiate Project Access and H.O.P.E. Mentoring Programs. Project Access is a program to develop innovative strategies for children/youth with epilepsy and their families. The H.O.P.E. Program enables individuals, families and volunteers to increase their knowledge and understanding of epilepsy.
    *The ESF board approved the re-naming of its Camp Scholarship Fund to the Joseph McElroy Camp Boggy Creek Scholarship Fund.
    *ESF is selected by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2011 top-rated health non-profits in America.
  • 2012 – *ESF board approves the initiation of the Graces’ Hope Hospital Visitation Program. The program was developed by Alicia Peddy and the ESF staff. This program supports families of children newly diagnosed with epilepsy. ESF partnered with St. Joseph Children’s Hospital to begin this program.
    *ESF is selected (for the second year) by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2012 top-rated health non-profits in America.
    *Following two years of consultation and discussion, the ESF board approves a plan to renovate the ESF building and grounds. The plan deals with drainage issues, the parking and asphalt problems and the updating to the front of the building.
    *Angela Brooks and Dominique Heller, board members, create a new fundraising event, the ESF SeptemBEERfest. The ESF board approves event.
  • 2013 – *ESF begins the renovation of the building and grounds.
    *ESF board begins transitioning process for time when Executive Director retires.
    *All Children’s Hospital and Florida Hospital show interest in initiating Grace’s Hope Hospital Visitation Program. Hospital management turned down the requests.
    *ESF is selected (for the third year) by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2013 top-rated health non-profits in America.
  • 2014 – *ESF board approves the addition of the Meet & Greet, Parent-to-Parent and Young Adult Programs.
    *ESF keeps $250,000 death benefit for Executive Director Life Insurance policy but reduces premium to $4,500/year. (See 2007 for details of policy).
    *ESF board approves the opening of a Fidelity brokerage account for accepting charitable donations of stocks.
    *ESF is selected (for the fourth year) by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2014 top-rated health non-profits in America.
  • 2015 – *ESF is selected (for the fifth year) by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2015 top-rated health non-profits in America.
    *ESF submits a board approved grant request for a $50,000 community grant from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation. The Lightning approved the grant request. The Lightning honor Brittany Vanhook, ESF teen, with the 2015 Tampa Bay Lightning Community Heroes award.
    *ESF board approves the addition of two epilepsy retreat programs: Rotary’s Camp of Florida and Deliver the Dream.
    *ESF board approves holding its first Epilepsy Family Picnic in Tampa.
  • 2016 – *ESF board approves the re-sealing and re-striping of the parking lot and the installation of a new roof.
    *ESF board approves paying off bank loan on renovation of ESF building and grounds.
    *ESF board approves new financial statement.
    *ESF sends 25 kids to Camp Boggy Creek and 21 families to one of three Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekends.
    *ESF holds Epilepsy Awareness Program on genetic testing and medical marijuana.
    *ESF is selected (for the sixth year) by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2016 top-rated health non-profits in America.
  • 2017 – *ESF board establishes Search Committee for finding and selecting a new Executive Director.
    *ESF sends 18 kids to Camp Boggy Creek and 20 families to the Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekends.
    *ESF adds Dr. Maria Gieron and Dr. Eric Vernier to the Medical Professional Advisory Board.
    *ESF holds Epilepsy Education Day in Lakeland, FL. to celebrate Epilepsy Awareness Month. Dr. Eric Vernier, M.D. is the presenter.
    *ESF is again selected by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2017 top-rated health non-profits in America
  • 2018 – *ESF board selects Alysia Peddy as the new Executive Director.
    *ESF sends 16 kids to Camp Boggy Creek and 22 families to the Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekends.
    *ESF is again selected by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2018 top-rated health non-profits in America.
    *ESF is recognized as a gold participant by GuideStar for its accountability, transparency regarding its finances and delivery of quality services.
  • 2019 – *ESF hosts a 45th anniversary celebration of the organization. Rachelle Rossmeisl, board member, is the chair of the celebration.
    *Due to her children’s epilepsy recurrence, Alysia Peddy resigns to care for her family.
    *ESF board selects Kathleen Michael as the new Executive Director.
    *ESF sends 9 kids to Camp Boggy Creek and 14 families to the Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekends.
    *ESF is selected by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2019 top-rated health non-profits in America.
    *ESF is recognized with the Platinum Seal of Transparency by GuideStar.
    *ESF trains 8 persons at its HOPE Mentoring Program.
  • 2020 -*ESF hosted “Walk for Epilepsy Pinellas” on March 7th. Due to COVID 19 the Walk for Epilepsy Hillsborough was rescheduled as a virtual event in July. The Golf4Kids Charity Classic was rescheduled for 2021.
    ESF creates recurring Parent Zoom and Teen Zoom meetings to help stay connected to families.
    ESF sends three families to the Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekend at Camp Boggy Creek. Due to COVID 19 Summer Camp at Camp Boggy Creek was held virtually. ESF supported 9 kids and their families who participated in Summer Camp and the Fall Epilepsy Family Retreat Weekend.
    *ESF is selected by the Great Nonprofits Organization as one of the 2020 top-rated health non-profits in America
    *Tom Orth, former executive director who had remained on staff as an assistant, retired in December.

Service Area

The Epilepsy Services Foundations provides services for persons affected by epilepsy living in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Hernando counties. 

Community Support