Today is Purple Day®, which is one day, March 26 each year, that is set aside specifically for the purpose of raising epilepsy awareness. On this day, people are encouraged to wear purple and host events that educate others about this disease. According to The Epilepsy Foundation, one in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. Purple Day® was born in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a little girl from Nova Scotia who was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 7 years old. In 2009, the program was launched internationally. Founded in the attempt to bring epilepsy awareness, Purple Day is recognized by many countries around the world.
In the United States, one of the Purple Day® events held is the National Walk for Epilepsy, which took place on March 22 in Washington, DC. Since the first walk in 2007, the National Walk for Epilepsy has raised almost 8 million dollars. Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation and the father of a child with epilepsy, says, “Living with epilepsy is a daily challenge for individuals and families throughout the country. Many people feel isolated and alone in their quest to find treatments that work. But, for at least one day every year, the epilepsy community comes together to remember we are not alone in our journey. For this one day, epilepsy is not as big a burden. We are very thankful that supporters like Rick Harrison [from TV series Pawn Stars] and Jerry Kill [coach of University of Minnesota Golden Gophers] are lending their voices to our cause. Together, we can make the kind of difference people with epilepsy deserve.”
Scotland has rolled out a program called ‘Turn Scotland Purple’. This unique campaign includes interesting sights such as a field full of purple sheep, and Edinburgh Castle, as well as other famous landmarks, lit up with the color purple. Epilepsy Scotland chief executive, Lesslie Young, says this about Purple Day®: “Our free Purple Day® pack on our website shows how to get involved and become better informed about epilepsy. People can wear purple to school or to work, or fundraise for us by making purple-coloured cupcakes or tray bakes. It’s time this often hidden and misunderstood condition came out of the shadows. In our 60th year, everyone can draw attention to epilepsy on 26 March by going purple-tastic!”
Epilepsy is an often confusing disease that effects each person differently. Some have only a few seizures in their lifetime, which are well-controlled with medication. Other people have daily seizures and can find no relief, no matter what forms of treatment are attempted. This disease runs the gamut from both extremes, and everything in between. Continuing research is important to discover new treatment possibilities for those who are not helped by traditional medication.
Everyone can lend a hand today to raise epilepsy awareness simply by wearing the color purple in recognition of Purple Day®. Those who suffer from the disease will surely thank you.
For more info, check out the Anita Kaufmann Foundation.
[Image courtesy of Epilepsy Ontario]