UPDATE: Community rallies around boy suffering from chronic seizures

By: Morgan Lentes, Eric Eckstrom Email
By: Morgan Lentes, Eric Eckstrom Email
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Back in March, we told you about Eli Wooton, a four-year-old boy who has been battling epilepsy his entire life. For months now, his family and members of the community have been working to help Eli with his daily battle for survival. That fight continued Saturday with a benefit motorcycle ride and concert at The Mixx Night Club in Hazard to raise money for his medical bills.


By all appearances, four-year-old Eli Wooton seems like a typical boy, dancing and smiling without a care in the world. But members of his family say the truth is far more heartbreaking.

“Eli has been a chronically-ill child ever since he came into this world. He has been through more in four years than most of us have in a lifetime,” says Rita Wooton, Eli’s mother.

Family member say Eli has dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of seizures per day, and his treatment is expensive. That is why members of the community came together Saturday for a charity bike ride and benefit concert.

“To us, it just shows what a close bond we have as far as with the community, and as far as with people contributing. It really [makes] me proud to be from eastern Kentucky,” says Chris Fields, Eli’s uncle.

There was music, food, and a small biker jacket, custom made and presented to Eli by a local motorcycle club.

“I really [don’t have] the words for it. I mean, these guys came together to put this together for this kid. It’s just amazing,” says Jason Anderson, of the Fallen King's Motorcycle Club.

Eli still has a long way to go, but his mother says she will continue to stand her ground, doing whatever is necessary to save her son.

“You know I tell people all the time, I ask them 'have you seen ‘The Lorax,’ a movie [about] a little creature that comes out of the sky and protects the trees because his trees are being cut down?’ Well, I’m Eli’s Lorax. I speak for Eli,” Rita said.

Family members say they are planning more fundraising events in the future.


Original Story: March 20th, 2014

HYDEN, Ky (WYMT) - A Leslie County woman tells WYMT a bill allowing the use of marijuana oil to treat childhood epilepsy that is moving through the state legislature could save her son's life.

As Rita Wooton knows all too well, not all seizures look alike.

"I think people are under the impression that if you are not laying on the ground convulsing violently, it is nothing to worry about. But it is," said Wooton.

You might wonder why a mother would want to share such a personal story, but Wooton said she wants to make the world understand the toll epilepsy takes.

"People I think do not really understand the severity of this illness," said Wooton.

Eli Wooton is four and he has had seizures all his life. Rita, his mother, said they had almost given up.

"We have tried diets. We have tried medicines. We have tried surgery. We have run out of options," said Wooton.

But then Wooton heard about a new form of treatment with promising results, cannabis oil. Despite the stigma of marijuana, she said she would be willing to try anything.

"You know he has never been able to say my favorite color is blue or my favorite food is spaghetti or mac and cheese. You know? We have never met Eli," said Wooton.

Wooton said thanks to the work of state senators like Julie Denton, a republican from Louisville, the drug is gaining ground in Kentucky.

"The cannabis oil helps with seizures," said Denton.

Wooton finally has hope for her son's future.

"I do not care how God heals Eli. Whether he does it directly himself or indirectly through doctors and physicians, we just want him cured," said Denton.

Eli currently receives treatment at the children's hospital in Cincinnati.

Wooton tells WYMT her family considered moving to Colorado where the treatment is already approved.
A bill to legalize an oil extract from marijuana or hemp plants to treat childhood seizures has picked up momentum in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The measure sailed through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The panel sent the bill to the full House after hearing from a woman who wants her son to be treated with the non-intoxicating oil.

The woman, Rita Wooton, told the panel she once thought her family would become medical refugees to get access to the oil. Now, she said it looks like Kentucky lawmakers will respond to the plight of her family and others.

Under the bill, patients could be treated with the oil at the medical research hospitals at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville.

The legislation is Senate Bill 124.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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