Gabby Dellacono

Youth Ambassador

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Gabby was first noted by her preschool teacher to be exceptionally gifted with hand-eye coordination. Gabby enjoyed excelling at many sports including soccer, softball, basketball, field hockey, and tennis. The more competitive and the higher the stakes, the more Gabby enjoyed the challenge.  Gabby played on many championship and All-Star teams including softball, field hockey, tennis, and soccer. All along the way, she kept involved in tennis which she became the most passionate about.

By 10 years old, she had helped an older 14u United States Tennis Association(USTA) zonal tennis team win a championship and was written up in the USTA newsletter. She was excelling at tennis and dominating the competition. Then something changed. She started experiencing random episodes of headaches, lightheadedness, and nausea, frequently during matches. Initial medical testing was inconclusive. She pushed through every sporting event while also succeeding in the classroom until she was almost 11 years old. 

Without warning, her first seizure occurred. Gabby saw a pediatric neurologist and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. Seizures made her feel confused. She experienced blurred vision which made it too difficult to see the ball during sports. She also struggled in school because of her vision issues.

Rather than back down and accept seizures, Gabby battled them fiercely. Her competitive nature shined through.  She was placed on seizure medications which needed to be slowly titrated. The medications brought side effects including blurred vision, personality changes, and fatigue.  Gabby continued to push through and she joined the cross-country team and was usually in the top 3 of every race. She also started on the basketball team for 7th and 8th grade and was voted the most athletic by her peers.

Breakthrough seizures did lead to changes in her medication and the usual slow titration that goes with it. Initially this affected her grades, but Gabby studied extra hours while traveling to sporting events to keep her grades at the honors level. By the age of 14, she was seizure free for 2 years and was weaned off her medication. 

Gabby has excelled in the classroom, taking honors level and AP courses. She has kept at a high honors level. She has also excelled in tennis, being ranked in the top 10 in New England. She has also been named All State in tennis for her Freshman and Sophomore years, Eastern Connecticut Conference Champion as a Freshman and Sophomore, and reached the final of the Connecticut State Tennis Open.

Gabby is proud to be an Athletes vs Epilepsy Youth Ambassador, hoping to tell her story and give hope to all the children and parents who have been afflicted by epilepsy. Gabby will also help to fundraise and continue to raise awareness in hopes that someday there will be a cure for epilepsy.

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