Inspiration from a Hometown Hero
Saturday night, I was invited to speak at a great event to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. I’m told that this event is growing by leaps and bounds each year–they were up to 511 guests this year–some of whom even drove five hours to get there! That’s evidence to me that people in our community are really starting to speak up and be heard.
Each time I enter a new community, I am struck by how it feels like I’m “coming home.” It’s the most heartwarming feeling to be surrounded by amazing and inspiring family members and people with epilepsy, clinicians and researchers, members of the community who show up to support a great cause. But particularly when I speak with the family members, I often feel like we have lived each others’ lives–the shared experiences with uncontrollable seizures, side-effects of ineffective treatments, living with unpredictability, heartbreak, and loss. The nodding heads, knowing glances… unless you’ve lived it, it’s next to impossible to describe. But, if you’ve lived it, it’s almost as if you don’t even have to say the words.
We were treated to some motivational words by Coach Jerry Kill, head coach of the University of Minnesota football team, for whom–I believe–this was the first time going public about his epilepsy. He’s definitely a hometown hero. His message to all the young people there with epilepsy and their families of resilience and success, despite the fact that he has had seizures in public now and has had to deal with all that that entails, certainly earned him a standing ovation!