In Wisconsin alone, 65,000 people have epilepsy, and of those 65,000, one in three experiences seizures that cannot be controlled with medication.
That was the case for Michael Gomoll’s son, Joey, who suffered from Dravet’s Syndrome. Michael spoke to the Waunakee Rotary Club June 3 at its first in-person meeting in more than a year. After his son’s death, Michael began the nonprofit, Joey’s Song, to raise awareness of epilepsy and funds to help with research and to support families.
Michael described a seizure as a “thunderstorm in the brain.” A sort of short circuit can occur, causing a seizure that can manifest itself in a number of ways. Most do not constitute a medical emergency, and contrary to popular belief, seizures do not cause a person to swallow their tongue. But turning a person over on their side can help keep the air passages open, Michael said. Also, seizures are not contagious, so it’s OK to help someone.
Head trauma is a major cause of epilepsy, but it can also be a chemical imbalance. Tumors or other medical conditions can cause seizures, as well.
Joey passed away just before his 5th birthday, and though epilepsy robbed him of his ability to talk, he loved music, leading Michael to begin the nonprofit, Joey’s Song. Through benefit concerts featuring manor pop performers each year, it raises funds for research and helps other pediatric nonprofits such as Gio’s Garden, where parents can trust children with special needs for short periods when they need to attend other events.  
Funds also go to send children and adults with epilepsy to Phoenix Camp at the Lions Camp in Rosholt.
Michael said the goal is to make the fight a little easier for everyone behind him and his family.
The next Joey’s Song Benefit Concert will be Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sylvee Theater. For information, visit
The recipients of the Rotary service scholarships introduced themselves. Emily Gavinski has led project through FFA and is president of the Leo Club, the Lion’s Club daughter organization. She plans to study agriculture education and horticulture with a minor in Spanish so that she can continue helping people locally and in other countries.
Mathew Karls, president of the Whirlwinds 4-H, helped with the Badger Honor Flight and has been a Salvation Army bell ringer during the holidays. He plans to major in mechanical engineering.
Cameron Taylor has done peer tutoring and volunteered with Food for Kidz, Rotary in Lights and Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. He plans to attend UW-Madison and has not decided on a major.
Michael Regnier has volunteered with the Waunakee Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity and the St. James early reader program. He will major in political science and economics. Congratulations to all!
Other news:
-Tuesday, June 29, is the steak fry, or changing of the guard, at Drumlin Ridge Winery. Don’t listen to Club President Tom Kennedy when he tells you it’s June 30. We’ll thank Tom for his service this past year and welcome Ross Mauer as the incoming president.
-June 21 is Make Music Waunakee and a sesquicentennial celebration will be at Hometown Pharmacy.
Birthdays: June 16, Karli Pagliughi
Anniversaries: June 12, David and Sue Hogg; June 15, Andrew and Ana Hovde.