I was recently assigned by USA Today to photograph and film two seemingly different families.
Their common bond was a strain of medical marijuana named ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and in each household a loving daughter with severe epilepsy.
THE BOTKER FAMILY
Greta Botker has been through more adversity in her short life than most adults. At the age of 7, she’s sampled a host of medications for her epilepsy: Onfi, Depakote, Felbatol, Keppra and Prednisone.
She’s been on strict diets.
She’s had brain surgery.
Nothing reduced the 15 or so seizures she had every day since she was 5 months old that kept her from walking steadily, feeding herself or talking. Her parents, Maria and Mark, had run out of options.
We put our child through brain surgery, so a plant like marijuana was not going to scare me.” — Maria Botker, mother of Greta, 7.
Mark and Maria Botker drop their daughter, Greta, off at school near their new Colorado home Thursday Feb. 6, 2014. The Botker’s daughter is diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy and is prescribed cannabis oil extracted from a genetically modified strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web. The strain is modified to produce a low yield THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive element in cannabis – and a high yield CBD (Cannabidiol) that provides Greta the anti-inflammatory and anti-epileptic properties which her parents point to her improved quality of life and reduced seizure count.
Greta Botker, 7, plays with her father.
Maria Botker prepares daughter Greta, 7, for dinner.
THE BURRIESCI FAMILY:
Grace is a friendly toddler with a sweet smile and curly black hair. Like Greta, she was born healthy. She began having seizures when she was a year old, her father says — as many as 300 a day.
This condition ultimately meant death for our kid, so we were going to war for her. Families are desperate.” – Biagio Burriesci, father of Grace, 2.
Grace Burriesci, 2, plays in her family’s new Colorado home.
Anna Burriesci and her 2-year-old daughter, Grace.