HomeTop StoriesEpileptic East Bay high school football star hosts skills camp for kids

Epileptic East Bay high school football star hosts skills camp for kids

DANVILLE – On Sunday morning, children in Danville took part in a skills camp hosted by a local high school football superstar. Marco Jones is one of the most coveted college recruits in the country, but growing up there were questions about whether he would be able to live a normal life.

If you don’t know the name Marco Jones, you can bet that every major college football team in the country does. The senior linebacker and tight end for San Ramon Valley High has offers from more than 30 colleges, including schools like Michigan, Alabama, USC and Texas.

But on Sunday his team was on the field at SRV. During the first Marco Jones Skills Camp, former players and coaches, recruited by Marco, engaged children aged 8 to 13 to undertake a range of activities: from speed and agility drills to a spirited game of dodgeball, all under the watchful eye of the founder of the camp. .

“He’s a big inspiration,” said 10-year-old Dominic Lasttrap. “I mean, I’ve known him for a while. He’s one of the people I look up to.’

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“He has workouts at 5 in the morning that he does!” Marco’s grandmother Shelley Graham said with a laugh. “It’s just amazing. Most people don’t do that! He’s really dedicated.”

As bright as Marco’s future seems, it didn’t start out that way. At the age of 3, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, which caused him to suffer from grand mal seizures at an alarming rate.

“It was a very traumatic experience, especially for my wife and me,” says his father Anwawn. “Waking up at three years old and having a grand mal seizure is not what we expected.”

“It’s scary,” said his mother KC. “And not being able to help your child is perhaps one of the worst things, the worst feeling.”

They did find help and at age 13 the problem disappeared, as it does in about 70 percent of patients. Although most participants were physically healthy, Sunday’s camp featured a program called “Helmets4Helmets,” which collects autographed sports equipment to raise money for children with epilepsy.

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“Luckily I grew out of it,” says Marco. “But there are people who are not so lucky to grow out of it and that is why there is a foundation that gives helmets – soft helmets – to children with epilepsy to protect them if they have a seizure; to protect their heads if they fall .”

Marco still has a big decision ahead of him. Where he decides to play will influence every aspect of his future and it is now a healthy future that his parents are very happy about.

“It’s surreal,” Anwawn said with a sigh. “My wife and I often pinch ourselves: Is this real? We’re lucky that he’s an incredible human being first and foremost. I watch him walk around here with a smile on his face all the time. Watching kids having fun, it makes every decision he makes easy. I mean, he can’t go wrong.”

Marco’s mother said his success has only increased his ability to inspire those struggling with the condition.

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“Now when they see someone like Marco – who knows everyone – saying, ‘Oh, I had epilepsy too,’ then maybe they feel a little more normal.”

The road to professional football is tough and there are no guarantees, but if it’s true that overcoming adversity makes a person stronger, Marco Jones clearly has an edge over the competition.

The Helmets4Helmets foundation was founded by Cal Bears assistant coach Aristotle Thompson, whose son also deals with epilepsy. For more information about the program, visit the website: Helmets4Helmets.com

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