Everyday Hero John Olson Scales Mountains to Raise Awareness About Epilepsy
By Mitch Jelniker
DENVER — We all have personal mountains to climb and to help us conquer all that life throws our way, 7Everyday Hero John Olson goes the extra mile.
"This year I did my 30th mountain," Olson said.
Olson climbs mountains to help raise awareness about epilepsy.
He controls his own seizures thanks to VNS Therapy. It is a minimally-invasive treatment option for drug-resistant epilepsy designed to prevent seizures before they start and stop them if they do. The treatment is delivered through a small device implanted under the skin of the chest.
"It is used only for people who have partial complex seizures," Olson explained.
For five years now, Olson has tackled Colorado's 14ers to prove epilepsy does not have to slow you down.
"I say, 'Keep climbing your personal mountains, never give up.' Kids and adults do not need to be afraid," Olson said.
Olson visits area hospitals, visiting children facing epilepsy, to encourage them.
"The kids love having someone to look up to who is in their shoes and can talk about what their life is like going forward," said Chase Whisenhunt with Epilepsy Foundation Colorado.
"John knows there's a purpose in it. He is what keeps me going," said Tom Olson, John's father.
And when he reaches the summit of each mountain, Olson unfurls a banner to help educate everyone about epilepsy.
"Every time we're up there there is someone asking questions or relating to someone they know who has a seizure disorder," Tom Olson said.
John's dad also credits their family's faith and John's courage and willingness to help others.
"I think it's the inner strength that John has. He knows anything can happen. He knows he could have a seizure at any time," Tom Olson said.
And on any given day, John Olson could be climbing too, to show others to never give up on their dreams.
John's next climb is on July 26, when he climbs Mount Elbert.
To learn more about epilepsy and the support available in Colorado, go to www.epilepsycolorado.org.