A Scarborough family’s effort to fight epilepsy with musical theater raised $13,000 Saturday for the Epilepsy Foundation.

“I am so overwhelmed with our bottom line,” Julie Fournier said as performers and the audience celebrated at the Portland Players theater after the two-hour show. “I had no, no, no idea we would hit anything close to that.”

The Fournier family presented an oversized $11,000 check to Adina Glover, director of special events for the Epilepsy Foundation, after the final curtain. Glover had traveled from Maryland to attend the performance.

Kimberli Meadows, a spokeswoman for the Epilepsy Foundation, said additional donations made Saturday brought the total raised to $13,000.

Fournier’s 9-year-old daugher, Alicia, was the star of the funraiser called “Alicia & Friends,” which featured some of Portland’s best talent in classic pieces from Broadway and Disney Broadway musicals.

All the performers donated their time to support Alicia, a student at Wentworth Intermediate School who suffers from epilepsy and has been acting since she was 6.

Expenses for the performance were bankrolled by Alicia’s father, Capt. Brian Fournier, and other sponsors, so all money from ticket sales went directly to the Epilepsy Foundation. The $11,000 represents 220 tickets at $50 each.

Many of those in attendance said they know Alicia and her family, or some of the other performers, who included five children in addition to Alicia and nine adults.

“She’s fantastic and such a performer,” said Mimi Merseve, who teaches theater at Kennebunk High School. “She’s such an amazing young woman. Her family is incredible, an absolute inspiration.”

Many of the performers received standing ovations, including sisters Colleen, 14, and Shannon Howard, 12, who sang “For Good” from “Wicked” and “Day by Day” from “Godspell” together. The girls, from Cape Elizabeth, said they know Alicia from two different productions – Shannon shared a stage with her in “The Sound of Music” and Colleen met her when they were in “The King and I” together.

“It was amazing; we didn’t think we would ever get that much money,” Colleen said after the performance.

“To be able to help her was awesome,” Shannon added.

Many of the people attending said they know Alicia either through her theater work or through her grandfather, Anthony Barrasso, who owns Anthony’s Dinner Theater & Cabaret.

Performers and those in the audience said knowing Alicia has made them more aware of epilepsy, a seizure disorder that affects about 2.7 million Americans and, 70 percent of the time, has no known cause.

“Everybody’s ready to at least learn and acknowledge the fact that epilepsy is a big part of a lot of people’s lives,” Julie Fournier said. “There are a lot of good things that can come out of this.”

Diagnosed at age 3, Alicia does not have the dramatic “grand mal” seizures many people associate with epilepsy, but has less physically obvious seizures characterized by darting eyes or staring. The seizures occur daily, and cause headaches, sleepiness and memory loss that makes school extra challenging for Alicia. Although surgical intervention could potentially cure her, it could also leave her legally blind.

The Fourniers hope “Alicia & Friends” will make people more aware of epilepsy and remove some of the stigma often associated with the disorder, as well as helping to fund research for a cure. Julie Fournier said she has always taught her daughters to appreciate how lucky they are and try to help others.

The “Alicia & Friends” performance culminated with Julie’s Fournier’s introduction of the less dramatic of the Fournier girls, 18-year-old Jacqueline, a recent Scarborough High School graduate who will be a pre-med major at St. Joseph’s College this fall. The girls’ mother said Jacqueline has spent the past six years being quietly supportive as Alicia’s illness absorbed much of the family’s time and energy.

Jackie Fournier worked backstage and conquered her stage fright long enough to draw the winners of door prizes at the end of the show.

“I don’t do stages. I’m the reserved one,” Jacqueline admitted in an interview after the final curtain.

She said she doesn’t see Alicia as a little sister with a disability, just as a talented and unique little sister.

“I don’t it as any different … because to me, she is normal,” Jacqueline said. “She’s my best friend.”

“The Fournier family is a model of inspiration for others coping with epilepsy,” said John Schneider, vice president of the Epilepsy

Foundation. “They’ve combined their creativity, passion for life, love for Alicia and desire to help others to unite the greater Portland area and make a difference across our nation. Their donation of more than $13,000 will help further our efforts to provide services, education, advocacy, and research to help people in thousands of communities in the United States.”

Amid bravos, ‘Alicia & Friends’ raises $11,000 for epilepsy fight

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