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This Halloween, a community rallied around one little boy in Brandon Farms who has been following a special diet to control his epilepsy.

Cavan Petura, aged 4 1/2, had his first seizure at 2 1/2, the same day that their family brought home his baby brother. He was diagnosed with generalized primary epilepsy at age 3 and his family tried, with little success, four different medications to control his 5-10 seizures per day. The family decided to try a diet called the Ketogenic Diet (Keto, for short) offered in a controlled setting at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and is used as an option when a child is not responding to medication. The diet is a form of treatment created over 70 years ago to treat epilepsy and involves consuming 90% fat with only 10% of protein and carbohydrate. The high fat content tricks the brain into thinking the body is starving and this starvation period has been found to stop the seizures from happening. Typically, the treatment/diet period is about three years.

“One slight mishap can send him into seizure overload (kind of like Halloween!),” said Cavan’s mother Erin Petura. “Since being on the diet for two months, he has been seizure free.”

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Cavan the “Keto Kid”

Erin Petura, mother of 4, her daughters and a family friend went door-to-door in the Hopewell Township community of Brandon Farms prior to Halloween supplying the houses with little prizes for Cavan to receive on Halloween instead of candy. Cavan’s oldest sister, who is 7 years old, did most of the explaining to neighbors about Cavan’s diet.

cavan letter
Letter to neighbors

“The whole Brandon Farms community came together to make sure they gave Cavan a Halloween he deserved,” said Erin Petra. “Not only did they use the prizes I gave them to give to him, but a lot of houses supplied their own goodies to Cavan. He got matchbox cars, green army men, coloring packs, slap bracelets, glow sticks and more! The people went out of their way and bought items for him. He was so excited! We went to over 50 houses and he didn’t receive one piece of candy! Not one! It made trick or treating a memorable and joyful one for him. And his bucket was stuffed to the top.”

In honor of November being National Epilepsy Awareness month, the Petura family shared this story with MercerMe readers to let people know about epilepsy and also as a thank you to the Brandon Farms community.

Erin authors a blog capturing the highs and lows of Cavan’s experience as a “Keto Kid” at www.cavantheketokid.blogspot.com. “I always hope that someone contemplating the diet reads the blog and can get it straight up. I want it to be real and hopefully helpful for them! — that and I want people to know that they can’t feed my kid!” said Petura.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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