Hometown Heroes: Brittany's Blankets for Epilepsy
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Brittany Vanhooke is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She loves the color pink and Hello Kitty. But her beloved blanket featuring her favorite character is more than just cute and comfy, it's her invention designed to help stop a seizure, and possibly save a life.
"First of all, you lay them on here on the pillow so their head doesn't bang on the ground,” Brittany explained, pointing to the blanket. “And you would roll it out and the Diastat medicine can stay in this pocket right here."
Brittany knows all too well what it's like to have a seizure. She was diagnosed with epilepsy five years ago, and has had dozens of hospital stays and hundreds of episodes.
"It's difficult. She seizes at night mostly, not in the daytime. And they're dangerous," said Brittany's mom, Sandee.
It's not comfortable either. Each time she seizes, the Diastat medicine she needs must be inserted rectally, and it can happen anywhere and anytime.
"She had a seizure in International Mall in front of Nordstom, and she asked later, 'did you have to pull my pants down?', and I said ‘yes’,” Sandee remembered. “So she and her dad invented the blanket and the pillow because you don't want to beat their heads into the ground either.”
Brittany donates her blankets to other sick kids across Tampa Bay, but her kindess doesn't end there. She also helps the homeless, stray animals and troops overseas through her charity, Brittany's Blankets for Epilepsy.
"Happy. It makes me feel like they feel. Happy," said Brittany.
She gave away her first blanket when she was just five years old, and is now up to 15,000 donations. Her accomplishments are so impressive, the Tampa Bay Lighting recently named her a community hero and presented her with a $50,000 grant for the Epilepsy Foundation.
"They made her her own jersey and for a few minutes there, everyone stood on their feet and applauded. It was incredible to watch," said Sandee.
An incredible little girl, bringing comfort to both people and animals, one blanket at a time.