Health

New Jersey man with epilepsy uses hand-painted seashells to help find a cure

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

Having trouble? Click here.

Greater epilepsy awareness could be as simple as a walk on the beach, thanks to one New Jersey man.

Kyle Adamkiewicz, 33, has lived with epilepsy since being diagnosed at age 6. He is now combining his love of art with the power of nature to help bring his seizure disorder into the spotlight.

In Oct. 2022, Adamkiewicz began collecting seashells from the New Jersey shore, then painting and decorating them with heartfelt messages in search of a cure. He places his works of art along the seaside boardwalks in the hopes that they will inspire strangers to spread the word — and the shells.

OHIO WOMAN WITH EPILEPSY FINDS SAFETY WITH HER SERVICE DOG

“It started with just painting a few shells, and I figured no one would find them,” Adamkiewicz said in an interview with Fox News Digital. 

“And then I saw people posting them online, and writing so many good and positive comments about the shells and about finding a cure for epilepsy. That motivated me to keep making more and more and more.”

Kyle Adamkiewicz epilepsy shells

Kyle Adamkiewicz, shown above, now 33, has lived with epilepsy since he was diagnosed at age 6. He is combining his love of art with the power of nature to help raise awareness of his disease. (Adamkiewicz family)

“And now they have been around the entire world.”

Adamkiewicz doesn’t drive, so his parents — Chuck and Laurie Adamkiewicz — drive him to place his shells.

PENNSYLVANIA MOM SEEKS ‘PERFECT MATCH’ BONE MARROW DONOR TO CURE DAUGHTER’S RARE DISORDER: ‘CRUCIAL NEED’

“We have shells with us in the car all the time, and he places them in different locations, different towns,” his mother told Fox News Digital.

Adamkiewicz estimates that he’s painted some 1,100 shells so far.

Many include messages about finding a cure for epilepsy, but he has also created themed designs for various occasions, like Shark Week and Halloween.

Kyle Adamkiewicz

Adamkiewicz has painted over 1,000 shells so far. “Our entire living room consists of nothing but shells and paint,” joked Adamkiewicz’s mother. (Adamkiewicz family)

“Our entire living room consists of nothing but shells and paint,” joked Adamkiewicz’s mother.

In addition to a hand-painted design, each shell contains Adamkiewicz’s initials, the year he decorated it and a QR code.

When people find the shells and scan the QR code, it takes them to a website. From there, they can access Adamkiewicz’s Facebook group, his Instagram account and a GoFundMe page set up to help raise funds for people to get “seizure alert” dogs.

THE GIRL WHO CAN’T SMILE: HOW A RARE DISORDER BECAME A YOUNG WOMAN’S ‘GREATEST GIFT’

It also links to the Epilepsy Foundation website, where people can learn what to do if they witness someone having a seizure.

“Most people don’t really know how to handle someone if they’re having a seizure,” Adamkiewicz told Fox News Digital. “They just turn their back and walk the opposite way.”

Epilepsy shell

In addition to a hand-painted design, each shell contains Adamkiewiczs’s initials, the year he decorated it and a QR code. (Adamkiewicz family)

“One out of 26 people in the world have epilepsy, but it’s basically a hidden disease that nobody really wants to know about.”

The Adamkiewicz family has a map of the world hanging on the wall — with pushpins to mark where the shells have been found, they told Fox News Digital.

In addition to locations across the U.S., shells have also been scanned in Mexico City, Greece, Italy, Panama, Canada, Nova Scotia, France, South Korea and Germany, Adamkiewicz said.

“One out of 26 people in the world have epilepsy, but it’s basically a hidden disease.”

“People will find the shells and take them to those places,” Adamkiewicz said. “And sometimes people will ask me for shells to take to wherever they are traveling.”

He’s also partnered with the hospital to get kids with epilepsy involved in his project, bringing shells in for them so they can paint their own designs.

Touching lives

Beyond helping to find a cure, Adamkiewicz has a goal of reducing bullying of people with epilepsy.

Kyle and Laurie Adamkiewicz

Adamkiewicz is pictured with his mother, Laurie Adamkiewicz. In April, he underwent a procedure to implant a responsive neurostimulation (RNS) device in his brain, which will gather data about his seizure activity. (Adamkiewicz family)

“When I was growing up, if my parents or brother weren’t there, I was always made fun of in school and in the neighborhood,” Adamkiewicz said. “Especially right after I had a seizure — the kids would just stare at me and make fun of me.”

He went on, “I want people to know it’s OK to be friends with someone with epilepsy.”

OHIO BOY, 8, PREPARES FOR BLINDNESS: ‘IT’S HEARTBREAKING,’ HIS MOM SAYS

At one point, during second and third grade, he estimates that he was having 100 seizures per day.

“It’s been a very hard and lonely life for Kyle, and very painful to see as a mother and father,” Laurie Adamkiewicz added.

The goal, she said, is that the shells will help to make life a little easier for those with epilepsy — and their families.

Epilepsy shells

Adamkiewicz said his seashell project has been a therapeutic endeavor for him. “If it’s been a really bad day, that’s mostly what I’ll be doing,” he said. (Adamkiewicz family)

Adamkiewicz’s mother recalled a man who posted about a personal experience on the Facebook group.

“His son had passed away, and the man goes to the ocean every morning to say good morning to his son,” she said. “And there was the epilepsy shell, and he said he started crying. He said it was just like a gift to him.”

She added, “You never know whose lives you’re touching.”

Taking control

Since age 12, Adamkiewicz has been a patient at NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, one of the largest programs in the nation, where he’s had a series of brain surgeries.

NEW JERSEY TWINS RECEIVE MATCHING HEART SURGERIES AFTER MARFAN SYNDROME DIAGNOSIS: ‘A BETTER LIFE’

In April, he underwent a procedure to implant a responsive neurostimulation (RNS) device in his brain, which will gather data about his seizure activity.

Neurosurgeon Peter Rozman, M.D., performed the surgery alongside his mentor, Werner K. Doyle, M.D., Adamkiewicz’s longtime doctor.

laurie-kyle-adamkiewicz

Adamkiewicz and his mom, Laurie Adamkiewiz, are pictured with some of his painted shells. (Adamkiewicz family)

“This system has the capacity to actually record brain activity in the form of electrical waves that detect when the seizures start, so it can deliver an impulse to the brain at that time, with the goal of aborting the seizure,” Rozman said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

The data collected by the device is sent to the neurologist, who uses that information to program the device to better capture and treat the seizures, he said.

“Over time, people see more and more improvement in their seizures,” Rozman said.

                                                    

Rozman praised Adamkiewicz’s seashell project, emphasizing the importance of increasing awareness of the condition.

“And it gives him an outlet, too,” the doctor said. “Having other people to talk about your condition with and being part of a community can be very helpful.”

Epilepsy shell

Each shell contains a QR code that a person can scan to access information, resources and fundraisers for epilepsy. (Adamkiewicz family)

In a way, Rozman said, Adamkiewicz is turning his epilepsy into a good thing.

“It’s beneficial on both sides — for raising awareness and also allowing Kyle to have more control and to drive the story,” he said. 

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER

“It can be such a devastating thing to have to deal with on a daily basis, and having some sort of license and control over that is really important.”

Adamkiewicz agreed that his project has been a therapeutic endeavor for him.

“We want to teach people how to be kind, and how to help.”

“If it’s been a really bad day, that’s mostly what I’ll be doing,” he said.

“Like earlier today, I was painting some shells and had my ear buds in, just listening to some music. I’m just so focused on painting the shells that I zone everybody else out.”

Epilepsy shell

Adamkiewicz’s shells have been found in many cities and countries around the world, including in Paris, France. (Adamkiewicz family)

Adamkiewicz and his mother are also working on a children’s book to teach kids more about epilepsy and what to do if someone is having a seizure.

“When someone has a seizure, it can be frightening to other children,” said Laurie Adamkiewicz mother.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health 

“So the goal is to get some information out there, to take the stigma away from the person who has epilepsy … We want to teach people how to be kind, and how to help.”

Related posts

8 important health stories to know about in case you missed them

Daily

Americans are sleeping less and stressing more, Gallup poll reveals

Daily

Pastor based in Dallas shares journey in depression, urges others to get help

Daily