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CEDAR FALLS — A one-day basketball camp that will be held Friday at the University of Northern Iowa campus is about a lot more than improving skills in the sport.

The Bounce Out the Stigma basketball camp also will help raise awareness about epilepsy and empower youths with the disorder.

The event is hosted by the Epilepsy Foundation of Iowa and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the UNI Wellness and Recreation Center, 2301 Hudson Road in Cedar Falls.

People can register until the end of the day Thursday. The cost is $25, which includes the fee for the event, a T-shirt and a basketball to keep. People can register at

It is meant for ages 8 through 18 and for youths with epilepsy, their siblings, friends or others who are interested in learning about epilepsy.

The kids will have the chance to learn from Mike Simmel, a former entertainment basketball player with the Harlem Wizards. Simmel, who also has epilepsy, founded Bounce Out the Stigma as a way to support and empower youths with the disorder.

Roxanne Cogil, director of Iowa Epilepsy Services, said Simmel approached the Iowa organization about putting on the basketball camp. But it became a reality thanks to the help from a Cedar Falls family who helped raise funds to put on the event.

Kendall Maslak, 15, was wrapping up a service project through the Epilepsy Foundation’s Teens Speak Up! program that took her to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers and also put together an advocacy platform.

One of the last projects she did was a fundraiser in November 2016 at her home with her parents Ed and Fadua. They debated whether to send the money directly to the foundation but instead opted to help make the basketball camp a reality.

“We thought that that would be great for the kids in Iowa, and anybody that can get to Cedar Falls, and that’s become this big to-do with this gentleman (Simmel) coming out and having the UNI basketball players being involved,” Fadua Maslak said.

Unfortunately, the event Kendall helped organize she will not be able to attend.

But don’t feel too bad for her. To celebrate her 16th birthday, Kendall’s family have planned a trip for her to see friends in Chicago and the hit musical “Hamilton.”

Though Kendall’s service project is over, her mother Fadua said their work continues to raise awareness and this event is just another way to spread the word.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t continue to promote and educate, and anytime we can get any information out there the better,” Fadua Maslak said.

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Political Reporter

Political reporter at the Courier

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