Hamilton County teen uses wish to benefit others with epilepsy
ALBANY — Maria Lutz said she’ll never forget the day that changed her life forever. On April 10, 2016, she learned she had epilepsy, at just 12 years old. Now five years later, the Hamilton County teen is being granted a wish to create a dedicated fund within the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. Her hope is to help people with epilepsy pay for medication.
“I want to help others and possibly even change their life with this fund,” said Lutz.
About 30 people gathered for an event at the Make A Wish foundation in Northeast New York. Lutz traveled with her mom from their hometown of Inlet to Albany, where Lutz was honored in front of press from the Capital Region. Lutz’s mom Yvonne said in an interview before the event, when Make-A-Wish approached them a few years ago, Lutz was offered her choice of wishes. Most often a wish to go somewhere or meet someone is granted, but Lutz made the very rare decision to instead give back.
“Maria was offered a wish back, I believe, in 2018. She struggled with such a tough decision so procrastinated about making the decision. She thought about meeting celebrities or singers she loved but one day said to me that she just wanted to help people that can’t afford their medication to help stop seizures because she wouldn’t know what she would do if she had to continue to have seizures because she couldn’t get the medication. She felt that she was fortunate enough to always be able to have her meds and doesn’t want to see anyone suffer with seizures due to lack of medicine availability. I was so proud of her,” said Lutz.
Lutz said epilepsy has changed her life in many different ways from hospital visits, and countless doctor appointments. As a result of this, she said it changed her as a person who wants to help others. She said she really struggled with what to wish for, but it came to her one night while she was thinking about all the words of wisdom she’s received from her parents. In that moment she felt clarity in what she wanted to do.
“I used to believe that this was some type of curse, that I did something wrong, and it was punishment from God. But then a wise woman once told me, ‘God gives His toughest battles to His strongest warriors.’ That wise moment was my mom. These words are the reason I am who I am today. If it wasn’t for what I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t be here now as strong as I am, doing something to hopefully change the lives of others. So there it is, I found another positive situation. Another positive thing from such an extremely awful negative situation,” said Lutz.
Make-A-Wish worked directly with the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York to make Lutz’s wish come true. Make-A-Wish CEO Bill Trigg spoke Thursday in Albany praising Lutz for her selfless act that will in turn help so many.
“We grant five types of wishes. To have something. To go somewhere special. To meet somebody special, like a sports and entertainment or other celebrity, or to be somebody special for a day. Those are our four basic wish types. But we also have a fifth wish type that is less common, but equally compelling, which is to give back. Over the course of the last 25 years we have granted four such wishes out of the nearly 2000 that we have granted in our 34-year history. And today we celebrate the granting of our fifth ‘I wish to give back wish’ by honoring 17-year-old Maria Lutz,” said Trigg.
Yvonne Lutz said with everything Maria has been through, she felt like her daughter’s childhood was ripped away from her, but she was not surprised when she chose the wish to help others.
“She certainly deserved a wish and instead decided to help others. It didn’t surprise me though because in all her visits to hospitals, she always sympathized with the other kids next to her. She never felt bad for herself. Maria is very excited to help others and wants to keep raising money to keep the fund a permanent one with the Epilepsy Foundation,” said Lutz.
To learn how to donate visit Maria’s Epilepsy Medication Emergency Fund at mariaepilepsy fund.org.