Roni-Kay Elser was diagnosed as an infant with epilepsy and had a lifelong battle with seizures and medication up until 2008. “In 2008, after having a seizure while driving, I went through an extensive diagnostic testing series which led me to find out all my seizures were in one area of my brain,” Elser said. Roni-Kay underwent a left temporal lobectomy in April of 2008, performed by Dr. Selim Benbadis. Dr. Benbadis is the USF Epilepsy Division Director and TGH Neurosurgeon. This incredible journey started her drive and determination to make others aware of the opportunities available to help ease their lives with seizures and epilepsy.

To further this goal, she created Seize the Moment Foundation Inc., a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization designed to assist financial burdens that epileptic patients endure. The foundation hosted the inaugural Que for a Cure on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17 2022 in Riverview.

This event comprised of a 50+ BBQ team competition that included a silent auction, raffle prizes and a comedy show from local radio host and MC Johnny B. Through sponsorships, individual and group ticket sales and generous donations throughout the day from BBQ Teams, Roni-Kay and her dedicated volunteers secured a net profit of $20,000 that will be given to both USF Health and Tampa General Hospital to support Epilepsy Research and Programming.

Another key component of the Que for a Cure was having numerous opportunities for patrons and teams to learn more about Epilepsy and how to prevent and cure the disease. Dr. Benbadis, the now life-long friend of Roni-Kay, was there with his team to present the BBQ Competition awards and give an update on his research and program at both USF Health and TGH.

This event came together because of one reason – the passion and persistence of Roni-Kay Elser. She is a beacon of light for this community and the standard of hope for people dealing with Epilepsy.

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