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Law student wins national honor for nonprofit honoring her late boyfriend

I’d never heard of CTE before my longtime boyfriend, Zac, mentioned it in 2015.

He suspected CTE—chronic traumatic encephalopathy— was causing tremors in his brain, memory lapses and mood swings. And he felt confident, based on his research, that the concussions he sustained in high school football were to blame.

Less than a year later, he took his own life. I had just completed my first semester of law school.

A medical report later confirmed that Zac had CTE. Through letters he wrote before his death, he made his last wishes clear: He wanted his loved ones to make sports safer for everyone, and to raise awareness of CTE.

He wanted his loved ones to make sports safer for everyone.

So his family and I co-founded CTE Hope, an organization aimed at ensuring no one has to face the same fate as Zac. We’re committed to supporting research into CTE, the development of better concussion protocols, and advocacy and awareness efforts.

I was truly honored when National Jurist selected me as one of 25 Law Students of the Year for my work in the classroom at Case Western Reserve and outside with CTE Hope.

It was recognition not only for what I’ve managed to do, but also what Zac left behind.

Alison Epperson (LAW ’18), co-founder and chief communications and marketing officer of CTE Hope

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