Last week, I had the honor of re-introducing our veteran Parent Ambassadors and introducing our newest Parent Ambassadors from the Midwest. This week, it is my pleasure to continue those introductions and hope you’ll join me in welcoming our newest Parent Ambassadors from the Northeast and West regions:
Jennifer Marasco-Kuhn – Pennsylvania (Northeast region)
Jennifer (Jen) is originally from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and currently resides with her family in Verona, PA (near Pittsburgh). She and her husband Chris have been married since 2014 and have two beautiful daughters: Maggie, almost 5 and Coralyn (Cora), age 2, who has Dravet syndrome. Jen is a licensed geriatric social worker and has provided supportive care and resources to families for over 12 years. Due to Cora’s condition, she paused her professional career to serve as Cora’s main advocate for all her and their family’s needs. As a family, they enjoy making and eating yummy foods together, singing and dancing to music, playing outside and taking hikes, as well as traveling and socializing with friends and family, when able. She looks forward to learning, growing, and sharing with the Dravet community in this role as a DSF Parent Ambassador!
Vince Faville- Pennsylvania (Northeast region)
Vince and his wife Cindy live in Pennsylvania with their three children. Their youngest daughter, Adrianna, is diagnosed with Dravet syndrome.
Richard Maxey- Washington (West region)
Richard was born, raised, and currently resides in Enumclaw, WA. He is married and has two boys, Owen and Zachary. Zachary, his youngest, was diagnosed with SCN1A gene mutation in his early years of life. Richard has spent most of his career working in a local manufacturing plant programming welding robots and as an IT Analyst, but now spends most of his time troubleshooting and repairing off-road vehicles and buggies. He enjoys spending time with family, off-roading, and tending to the family acreage. Since the diagnosis in 2016, Richard and his family have been passionate about learning more about Dravet as well as advocating for their son through their local communities and clubs.
Melissa O’Bryan- Alaska (West region)
Melissa and her husband, Jim, are proud parents of four boys and make their home in Ketchikan, Alaska. Their son, Owen, was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome at the age of 3. She credits awareness and research through DSF and other rare disorders for their early diagnosis. Melissa represents Alaska as a volunteer and advocate for the Epilepsy Foundation as well as having co-chaired the NW Run/Walk for Epilepsy for three years prior to the national COVID pandemic. Her family spends time advocating and raising awareness for those living with epilepsy by participating in local events, including her son\’s favorite passion of selling lemonade. Melissa brings strong advocacy skills around IEP rights and responsibilities as well as disability rights and inclusion. She is looking forward to her time as a Parent Ambassador to help other parents the way she has been helped.
Austin Watson- Idaho (West region)
Originally from northwest Washington, Austin has been a resident of Boise, Idaho, for the past 12 years. Austin\’s son, Owen, was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome in November of 2014, at the age of 13 months. In addition to Owen, Austin is mother to daughter Dylan, and is wife to Stewart. In the spring of 2015, Austin and her family attended an epilepsy conference in California. There they met Dr. Charlotte Dravet and veteran Dravet families. The love and advice the Watsons received from those families forged deep bonds and gave hope to their newly diagnosed family. It is for these reasons that Austin is most excited to volunteer as a Parent Ambassador. From 2016-2019, Austin and her family organized Goin’ For Owen: 5k for Dravet fundraisers (since paused due to the national COVID pandemic). Austin plans to resume large-scale fundraising soon.
Prior to becoming a full-time caregiver for her son, Austin taught English language learners after receiving her MA in elementary education from Concordia University. Before teaching, she obtained her BA in entrepreneurship from Washington State University and sold underground utility pipe. In her spare time, she enjoys belly dancing, singing, reading, watching movies, and has recently started hiking. As a family they love camping in their motorhome, playing games at home, and going to the zoo.
A very special thank you to all of our Parent Ambassadors for volunteering for this vital role in our community!