Feb 13, 2014 8:22 PM by Maddie Garrett
A movement is continuing to grow in Colorado, as families from across the country migrate here in search of a special kind of medical marijuana oil for their children who suffer from varying degrees of epilepsy. Since November, the number of families who have moved has doubled from about 50 to more than 100, and that's only the families known through the Realm of Caring Foundation.
Realm of Caring is the non-profit organization in Colorado Springs that provides the medical marijuana called Charlotte's Web. The foundation is now helping families meet for support groups on a frequent basis.
Thursday morning, a handful of parents gather for coffee and catching up. None of the parents are from Colorado, but they're all here for the same reason, in hopes of helping their children.
"When you've tried pretty much anything you can think of for 10 years, when we heard of this my husband just said you got to go," said Debbie Foster, who moved from Pennsylvania.
But Foster had to leave her husband and older children behind. She took her four youngest children to Colorado Springs to try this new treatment for her teenaged daughter, Lydia, who has suffered with daily seizures for 10 years.
"It's a slow thing that debilitates them," said Debbie. "she's almost 16 and on a first grade (level.)."
So when Foster found out about Charlotte's Web, an oil so low in THC it qualifies as hemp, she thought this might save her daughter. She said the first two months were slow to show improvement, but finally a few weeks ago, she started seeing signs of hope and the seizures are down by half.
"The bigger thing though is she's more aware, she's having better days over all," said Foster.
Foster's daughter isn't the only success story. There are many parents who say the oil is working. Aileen Burger said her daughter is coming back to life too, after a few months on Charlotte's Web oil.
"It's working wonderful," said Burger. "She's been saying a few words, she hasn't said words in over a year, and increased attention span, it's just amazing."
Rachel Selmeski talked with News 5 back in November, right after she and her husband moved to Denver for Charlotte's Web. Their daughter Maggie was having 500 seizures a day and couldn't talk or even hold her head up. Now her seizures are down by at least 30% said Selmeski.
"She has awakened and come out of her shell quite a bit, her eyes have lost some of that hazy fog," she explained.
Maggie can now imitate clicking sounds, she's even smiling, things she couldn't do a year ago. It may not sound like much, but Selmeski is thrilled to see her daughter coming back to her.
"She's far more active than she has been in a long time," said Selmeski.
But the journey is a tough one, especially for families split apart like Carly Tagnei-Decker and her husband back in New York.
"He hasn't seen his daughter in a month more importantly, I can talk to him on the phone but he can't talk to her," said Tagnei-Decker.
That's why a simple get together at Poor Richard's coffee shop can make a world of difference for these families. They understand each other's challenges, and are not alone in their quest to help their children.
"I know it's difficult for them to get here but when they get here there's a loving community that can support them," said Heather Jackson, Executive Director of Realm of Caring Foundation.
Parents said making the move would have been much more difficult if they didn't have the support of so many others in Colorado Springs.
"You can't explain how important it is to have support out here," added Foster.
While the results aren't always the same, or even miraculous, each of these families will tell you, the move was worth it.
As for Realm of Caring, Jackson said there are now 319 people on Charlotte's Web, almost all of them are children, and they're having a hard time keeping up with demand. Realm of Caring also just expanded its operation to California.