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December 17, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

Rick Harrison of ‘Pawn Stars’: Why I support the Epilepsy Foundation

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Steve Marcus

Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, Austin “Chumlee” Russell, Richard “The Old Man” Harrison and Rick Harrison on the red carpet after attending a performance of “Pawn Shop Live!” on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at the Golden Nugget.

Lynyrd Skynyrd and 'Pawn Stars'

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Launch slideshow »

Randy Couture and Rick Harrison at D Las Vegas

Randy Couture and Rick Harrison at The D Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach settles into a Milan and Switzerland lifestyle before his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus, the Northern Italian Lake District this year — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with “Pawn Stars” hero Rick Harrison with his personal, heart-touching, emotional and physical battle with epilepsy.

I struggled with epilepsy the better part of my formative years — up until I was in my teens — and fortunately overcame it. It was debilitating and isolating and, strangely enough, what led me to the amazing journey I am enjoying with the success of “Pawn Stars.”

The best part of having epilepsy, if there was one, was the time it allowed me to spend with my mom. I got her all to myself on the ride to the doctor appointments and while we waited to see the doctor. With siblings, that was a rare and special treat — Mom and me time. It helped offset the downside to the disease, which included seizures and migraines.

The headaches led to many long hours alone in a dark bedroom where light only intensified the pain, which meant, with the one television we had downstairs, I was imprisoned alone with my books and a very low-powered light for reading — who could ever have known that would lead me to a life as a reality-TV star, among other uses for all that book-smart knowledge?

Perhaps the even better part of having epilepsy and the synergy between the struggle and the fame is that I was honored to be asked recently to serve as the national spokesman for the Epilepsy Foundation to create awareness for the disease and remove some of the stigma associated with it and the seizures that so often accompany it.

In my role, I get to be plain old Rick, but due to the reach of the “Pawn Stars” franchise, my voice speaks loudly and reaches ears that those struggling with epilepsy have not been able to speak to for years. I am humbled by this experience and amazed at what a difference it makes to have someone who is recognizable lend his or her voice to a cause. There could not be a better one than this.

As a child, I looked for people whose names I might recognize who had epilepsy so that I would not feel alone. One of the reasons that I bought first lady Ida McKinley’s tiara (it aired on a “Pawn Stars” episode) was that she was one of those rare names I found as a child, and I hope that children with epilepsy today looking for that familiar face who knows their struggle see me and feel a bit less alone.

In addition to lending my name and voice to the Epilepsy Foundation, we have started a chapter here in Las Vegas this year, and our first event will be the “Pawn Stars Poker Run” on Oct. 5. We are hoping for 1,000 bikers, and I can’t wait to make a different kind of noise, even louder than my voice, to raise awareness and funds for a cause that has been silent for far too long. For more information or to make a donation, go to GSPawn.com and Epilepsy.com and join the ride.

That “my crazy, who would ever have thought it” fame could be helping a cause so much bigger than a pawnshop or a reality-TV show is just proof that sometimes when we struggle in life (particularly as kids), there are better things to look forward to, and we have to believe that the struggles will lead the way to amazing opportunities and a way to use our success for a better good.

Check out our other guest column today from Rich Johnson, owner and master brewer of Sin City Brewing Co., and on Sunday blonde-bombshell beauty Sabina Kelley, restaurateur Sami Ladeki and “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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