Tens of thousands raised for epilepsy research
By Jenn Watt
More than $60,000 was raised for epilepsy research through Katie’s Run in Haliburton on July 6. The eighth annual event included a five-kilometre and 10-kilometre trail run as well as a family-friendly, wheelchair and stroller accessible 2.5 km walk/run.
Geri Woudstra, an event organizer and mother to Katie Woudstra, after whom the run is named, said the huge fundraising total was bittersweet.
“Many of those dollars were raised in memory of two very special people, Scott Van Gurven who died of SUDEP [sudden unexpected death in epilepsy] last year and Levi VandenBrink, Katie’s beloved. Both the VandenBrink and Van Gurven family were a big part of this year’s event,” she said via email.
VandenBrink died in a plane crash last summer.
Following the run, Katie spoke to the audience about the “shocking, monumental, life-shattering loss” she was experiencing and pointed out that people with epilepsy also face daily loss, which can include jobs, mobility, independence, freedom, friends and opportunities.
“We have all experienced loss in some form at some point in our lives and at different magnitudes,” she said.
“Our losses, they hurt so much. So in honour of every single hurt and loss we have suffered in honour of Levi, and all of your loved ones you have lost, let’s keep doing this. Let’s beat epilepsy to ebb our pain and fight epilepsy to one day uncover the brilliance that will end epilepsy once and for all.”
More than 200 people took part in the fundraiser, including Miss Canada 2019, Christine Jamieson and Anthony Farnell, Global News meteorologist, who brought Storm the Weather Dog.
Jamieson shared her experience living with epilepsy, which she has had for more than a decade. After seizures began, she went from being a straight-A student to a high school dropout having between 10 and 15 seizures a day. When she was 17, she was admitted to the hospital for two months as doctors did tests.
“Every night the doctor would come to my bed and say, Christine, we know there’s something wrong with your brain. We see what’s happening to you. The issue is we can’t tell you where it is, what it is or if you’re going to wake up to see tomorrow. And at 17 years old, I lost all hope,” said Jamieson.
Once she was diagnosed, she found medications that reduced the frequency of seizures, but they’ve never fully left. She reminded the audience of the courage it takes people with epilepsy to go about daily activities like grocery shopping or going to work knowing that they could possibly have a seizure.
She urged people to continue researching and fundraising to find a cure.
“Please, don’t let epilepsy [awareness] be a one-day thing,” she said.
You can make donations and find out more at www.katiesrun.ca.