Ellinger Talks: Walks and Seizures


Mr. Ellinger’s map for his Walk Every Block project. Areas in red have been walked by Ellinger.

Nick Pickel, Staff Writer

Mr. Ellinger is a well-known and highly respected staff member at Seattle Prep, teaching mathematics for the past 28 years. Students will speak of his supportiveness, talkativeness, and passion for his job. Those who’ve had the experience of having him as a teacher will also know about his Walk Every Block mission and his struggles with seizures.  

Since July 4, 2020, during COVID restrictions, Mr. Ellinger has made it his mission to, as the name implies, walk every block in Seattle. “That day, I had no 4th of July plans and felt kind of lame.” He parked his car in Central Ballard and walked to his friend’s house in Crown Hill, about three miles away. “I went down a street that I had never been on before and found it awesome. I realized the only reason I didn’t know it is I never had a reason to go there.” This made Mr. Ellinger wonder how many more discoveries were out there that he didn’t know about, and thus began Walk Every Block. 

“Every weekend, I get out and see the city, I never sit around watching football,” said Mr. Ellinger, “after three heel surgeries my rec sports career is over, and a lot of guys my age start getting really sedentary.” Mr. Ellinger emphasizes that Walk Every Block is less about physical fitness and accomplishments, and instead about getting to explore every nook and cranny of the city.  

He does add, however, “Staving off heart disease is nice.” 

Ellinger had lots to say about what he’s gained from Walk Every Block, including some of his favorite things he’s seen on his walks. From “unbelievable” Little Free Libraries to beautiful pieces of art (a favorite being a Chinese Dragon sculpture built by connected flowerpots in Beacon Hill), Mr. Ellinger has had the opportunity to see various fascinating things while walking every block, but it has also given him a lot more perspective on the poverty in Seattle and an understanding of how areas are impacted by homelessness. 

He’s also enjoyed the company of different people on his walks, such as one walk where he met with a wine-pressing contingent who offered a glass to him, his good friend from college, and one of their former professors. Another walk was during a blind date with his now-girlfriend after they were set up by their friends. 

Another thing that many of Ellinger’s students know about is his experiences with seizures. He had his first seizure at the age of 24, which was a generalized tonic-clonic or grand mal seizure. The cause was unknown;, he says it “came out of nowhere.” He was worried that people might look at him differently after Former Seattle Prep president, Mr. Hickey, expressed concern over Mr. Ellinger driving students even though his neurologist okayed it.  

However, he said, “Over time, I let this go, and when I went ten years seizure-free Mr. Hickey decided I had shown that it was clearly under control.” 

Ellinger recommends to anyone suffering from seizures or health concerns in general, “Don’t spend energy keeping any health problems to yourself. Be as private as you want, but also trust the people around you. They want to have your back when you need it.”  

For him, people were very compassionate and curious about it, and supportive when he let them in. “All that time worrying about others and keeping it hidden feels like a waste of energy and something that distanced me from others.” 

Mr. Ellinger is thankful to be living at a time when there are many medications and resources to help out with health issues such as seizures, as well as for people who support him. And through his Walk Every Block mission, he’s keeping himself healthy and experiencing many exciting and beautiful things.