Instead of huddling in front of the TV with her dad, Flowery Branch High student Skylar Tipton will cheer on the Atlanta Falcons at the Super Bowl.
Skylar won a contest through the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia for tickets to Super Bowl LI Feb. 5 in Houston.
“This will be her first football game, so where do you go from here?” asked father Jody Tipton, who will be attending the game with his daughter.
Aly Clift, the foundation’s executive director, said the organization set up a two-part contest. Contestants with epilepsy, seizures or a seizure disorder submitted a tweet to the foundation’s account on why they should win the tickets. Five finalists were chosen, and the entrant with the most “likes” on Facebook and Instagram won.
“The intent was to send someone living with epilepsy to this incredible experience,” Clift said.
When she discovered she was the winner, Skylar said she “freaked out” and immediately went to the lunchroom to tell her friends.
Jody Tipton said his daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy after an immunization at 14 months old.
“The next day, she had a seizure,” he said. “And they kept going and kept going.”
According to the American Epilepsy Society, one in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy or recurring seizures in their lifetime.
Within hours of Skylar becoming a finalist, the Tiptons watched the “likes” skyrocket. Jody Tipton credited the win to the three church families: The Vine Church, Flat Creek Baptist Church and Chesnut Mountain Church.
“All those people just took that, read her story and ran with it,” Jody Tipton said.
Skylar’s post had more than 1,600 likes on Facebook and more than 500 shares.
Wearing the No. 11 jersey, Skylar said her favorite Falcons are Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Tevin Coleman, as she did her own imitation of the running back’s touchdown dance.
Clift said the foundation was excited to present the tickets and “brighten the day of someone who lives with epilepsy, which there’s still so much stigma that surrounds” the disorder.
To Jody Tipton, it still hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I don’t know that it will set in until we get to Houston or when we get on the plane and everybody’s dressed in Falcons stuff and I’m like, ‘Hey, these are our people,’” he said.