A week of basketball in Tauranga has been just the distraction Summer Brown needed.

The talented 12-year-old has represented Rotorua in basketball and netball, and Taupō in touch, but the epilepsy she developed at age 8 has recently grown more severe and is affecting her sport.

This year, Summer has had 23 "tonic chronic" seizures. An intense regime of medication is currently managing the epilepsy but Summer's whole life has changed.

The sports-mad girl from the farming community of Reporoa, 40km south of Rotorua, cannot play rugby and cannot swim or ride a bike without an adult right beside her. It's difficult for her to go on sleepovers because she needs supervision at all times – the constant and necessary supervision of her parents is claustrophobic for a 12-year-old who just wants to spend time with her mates.


But this year, Reporoa College decided to bring a girls' basketball team to the 15th annual AIMS Games and it has been a chance for Summer to play a sport she loves and forget about how epilepsy has affected her life.

Summer Brown and her teammates take a drinks break. Photo / Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
Summer Brown and her teammates take a drinks break. Photo / Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

During a 20-9 defeat to Kelston Intermediate on Wednesday, Summer tried not to think about the possibility of having a seizure on court. Instead she just focused on keeping up and enjoyed playing with her mates.

Summer's mum, Crystal Vanner, said it was not known whether it was the epilepsy or the medication that was slowing Summer down, but she got much more tired while playing now. Summer felt like she was running in slow motion.

"I feel, like, slow as and I know I'm slow as 'cause everyone's yelling at me," she said, grinning and rolling her eyes.

But she has loved how fierce the competition has been at AIMS. Reporoa haven't had many wins but the team has had a ball.

Summer has three brothers and said she had just one subject she loved at school. "I like P.E; yeah, just P.E."

Vanner said ever since her daughter was 5, she had wanted to be a Silver Fern.
She and her partner, Gregory Brown, were proud Summer continued to play sport, even though she was not performing at the standard she was used to. They hoped she would grow out of the seizures and could get her Silver Fern dream back on track.

"She keeps going," Vanner said.