DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
DURHAM: Epilepsy Durham, a local support network and charity group, aims to take awareness of seizure disorders to new heights by climbing in to and out of Arizona's Grand Canyon in October.
On Sunday, August 10, a crowd of supporters - including Uxbridge's Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor and members of council - gathered at the head of the Countryside Reserve trail to hike in support of the Epic Climb. Mayor O'Connor was joined by Councillors Mikuse, Molloy, Mantle and Northeast on the practice hike. The Township plans to make a donation to the cause.
"When we recieved a delegation in July from the Epic Climb group, I realized just how much the symptoms of epilepsy affect people. I was shocked that in 2014 it's still looked upon in an improper light," said Mayor O'Connor. "We decided to get behind this cause."
Epic Climb is a charity mission which will see a team of thirteen descend into the Grand Canyon, cross the Colorado River, and scale back up the other side – pausing to unfold their purple flag covered in the signatures of their supporters.
The team has raised an impressive $25,000 of their $45,000 goal, and are hoping to keep the momentum, and their training days, moving ahead.
"I began the project while I was suffering from a brain injury in May of 2013, I wanted to set a milestone for myself and bring attention to epilepsy," said Dianne McKenzie, Executive Director of Epilepsy Durham.
Dianne thought she would scale the towering walls alone, but remarked that her entire team got behind her as a support network, and nine others signed up as climbers alongside her.
"The training is quite exhilarating," said Dianne. "It really make me proud to hike for seven hours and then climb a muddy, rocky wall - what keeps me going is thinking of our ambassador Cameron's bravery going into surgery."
Cameron is a seven-year-old boy who has been named Epilepsy Durham's superhero - he began experiencing symptoms when he was very little, and has been exceptionally brave during the course of his treatment.
After visiting Sick Kids Hospital, the source of his illness was dicovered - but left the family unsure.
As a mom herself, Dianne wanted to help Cameron in any way she could. Once he was put into contact with doctors who specialize in epilepsy research, he was given a life-saving brain surgery, and has been declared seizure-free. Only twenty per cent of candidates for epilepsy related brain surgeries end up receiving the treatments, according to Dianne. Many are not given knowledge of the procedure.
All proceeds raised for the Epic Climb will go to help Epilepsy Durham's various programs, which give transport to children diagnosed with epilepsy, offer affected families support with medical costs, and give children a chance to visit a special summer camp.
Further, Epilepsy Durham welcomes in families coping with the illness, and offers hope - often putting them in touch with knowledgeable doctors and an insight to treatments.
For further information on sponsorships, or to begin your own Epic Climb, please visit the group on-line at www.EpicClimb.ca.