As Cade Cox slid down a zip line on a recent day, it was hard not to notice his laughter filling his family's backyard. But his innocent smile hides a much larger part of his life.
The scar, on the top-left corner of his head, is evidence of a battle he's been fighting for the last four years: a battle for his life that unexpectedly began when he was preparing for kindergarten.
"His eyes rolled back in his head one morning," said Brian Cox, Cade's father. "He was just very stiff."
What Cade experienced on that terrifying morning was a seizure, one of many more episodes he has endured in the years that have followed.
"He had a seizure one morning and it came from another side of his brain," said Cade's mother, Melanie Cox. "That's when we knew he didn't just have one spot. He had more than one, which is bad news."
The news would prove to be devastating for Melanie and Brian. Their little boy was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Medications couldn't help him ,and before long, Cade had to undergo his first brain surgery, during which doctors removed a large portion of his left temporal lobe.
Pediatric neurologist Dr. Jerry Tomasvic doesn't treat Cade, but he said he sees many children who suffer from epilepsy. The disorder can permanently affect a child's learning ability and language skills, he said.
"It can have an impact on the language problem and on learning and how far the child is going to progress at school," Tomasvic Said.
Cade feels its impact everyday. He's already a few years behind in school, and his mom said he has a difficult time remembering things.
"One day he would recognize the letter A and the letter C and the letter S, but then that afternoon, he had already forgotten the letter S."
Cade's condition continues to deteriorate. He had a second operation two years ago, but the seizures wouldn't stop.
Now, Cade's making a return trip -- not to school like his friends, but back to the hospital for a third operation. This time, doctors will completely remove his left temporal lobe.
"It could be a life changer for this child. Absolutely, no question about it," Tomasvic said.
The thought of not being able to communicate with Cade ever again weighs heavy on his parents' hearts.
"Worst-case scenario, he can't ever understand what's being said again," Melanie said.
Cade likely will need therapy and special education for the rest of his life, but the Coxes are worried they don't have the financial means to support his special needs.
"This little boy needs ... resources. We want to be able to provide him every available resource to help live a long, great, productive, independent life."
Melanie said she's speaking out not only for her son but for every child who suffers from epilepsy.
She's been a member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas for years in the hope that one day, people will understand the challenges facing children with this disorder.
"There is a stigma attached with epilepsy," she said. "People think people with seizures are weird. There's the emotional, the psychological and the social impact."
There's no doubt Cade's life for the last four years has been challenging and his journey is just beginning. What will happen after his surgery Aug. 27 remains unknown.
But one thing is certain: "The outpouring of love and support we've received blows my mind," Melanie said.
Tough times like these have uncovered neighbors' love for one another -- a community that's now pulling together to help a little boy who deserves a bright and successful future like other children.
Kind strangers, family and friends have organized a benefit to raise money for Cade. It will be held Saturday from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Bulverde Amphitheater.
A live band, live and silent auctions and BBQ plates will be a part of this benefit.
If you'd like to help, here's more information: http://www.friendsofcade.org
To watch Cade Cox’s Journey with epilepsy, click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6mOCirAk98