Can We Get A Touchdown? – NFL Support Epilepsy Awareness
May 28, 2014
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy
In 2011, still becoming accustomed to life along the journey with epilepsy, and readjusting back into a sense of normality as daughter, sister, and newly married wife of just 3 years, an idea ignited within me as I began my pilgrimage of advocating for epilepsy with The Epilepsy Network (TEN). I very much so wanted to take epilepsy awareness on a grand scale where it deserved to be for us all. All 65 million of us around the world. Those of us living with the condition, those that had passed away as a result and those who support us each and every single day. I very much wanted to take epilepsy awareness on a grand scale to educate the masses, to advocate, to let the world know what epilepsy was all about. To shatter the stigma still surrounding epilepsy. To raise funds for those in need of medicines, medical care and more. A night came in which my husband and I were watching NFL football during the month of November. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As it is well known, The NFL highly publicizes its support for Breast Cancer Awareness with the color pink. Pink signs, pink ribbons, pink on the field, every which way you turn there is pink to be found. Additionally, The NFL is very generous to donate funds to cancer research as well! “What a phenomenal platform for Epilepsy Awareness to stand”, I thought. With the risk of head injuries and concussions in the NFL, why not? It would only make sense too, I would assume? Knowing almost instantly that a venture this enormous could without certainty be a long shot, especially being only one person, I decided to pursue it with absolute faith anyhow.
I began a CHANGE.org petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/nfl-support-epilepsy-awareness) seeking 30,000 signatures in the hopes that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the entire NFL would be convinced that this does in fact need to be supported every November.
This had been my first CHANGE.org petition that I had ever made. I had heard about them before and their many successes of a variety of sorts. The determination within me to see this succeed for each one of us around the world with epilepsy willed me to give it my all even if it seemed impossible to most. Once creating the CHANGE.org petition, I moved on and created the Facebook Mission Page titled “NFL Support Epilepsy Awareness” (https://www.facebook.com/nfl4epilepsyawareness)
Coupled with The Epilepsy Network (TEN), I began the endeavor of achieving Epilepsy Awareness in the NFL. Reaching out to NFL Players, NFL Executives, NFL Cheerleaders, television shows, anyone I could think of. Some avenues lead to dead ends and just about every call lead to no call backs but I had and continue to have a million mustard seeds worth of faith keeping me going strong, as Matthew 17:20 in The Bible says“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The CHANGE.org petition and Facebook page lie slightly quiet for a short while, as I continued to pray and remain steadfast in faith. I devoted my all into The Epilepsy Network (TEN), my family, friends and my health. My health began to progress over time after having adjusted to new medications and restructuring my lifestyle mind, body and soul. The seizures had lessened and I had begun to look forward to a possibility that I may be able to drive once again on my own.
Unfortunately, Epilepsy had a different plan in store for me when in February of 2014, I was struck down by 3 major seizures causing me to be rushed to the ICU. Followed by two additional seizures during EEG testing later on. 5 seizures in total. This, setting me back to the starting line which was at first extremely devastating but only made me more determined to fight harder. The saying “I have epilepsy but epilepsy doesn’t have me.” couldn’t have been more truer of a statement in that moment. I felt it in every fiber of my being.
I spent many days in the ICU, gears turning within my mind, thinking. What would it take to convince The NFL, Roger Goodell to support Epilepsy Awareness? A thought that crosses my mind all the time.
To my astonishment, a fantastic epilepsy organization, “AJO Forever In Our Hearts” a dedication page to a young lady named Alyssa Josephine O’Neill who lost her battle to epilepsy far too young, ran by Alyssa’s parents Jason and Sarah O’Neill, contacted me and asked if they could help me with my mission to get the NFL to support Epilepsy Awareness! (http://ajoforever.com/)
I found myself uplifted with optimism and enthusiasm and without second thought accepted! Jason and Sarah, though having never met them, are two very kind and driven individuals for their daughter who was unfortunately taken away due to epilepsy and for epilepsy awareness. Jason took to the radio waves on Star 104 Erie to let the people of Erie Pennsylvania know about the CHANGE.org petition and should anyone in the NFL be listening, may they pass the word along to Roger Goodell.
My husband, who is the owner of 4FrontDesign Graphic Design Company (http://4frontdesign.com/) decided it was the right time to give the Mission Page an overhaul and gave the entire Facebook page a completely new look, the way that you see it now.
A very good friend of mine and fellow epilepsy advocate Whitney Petit, Founder of Changing Focus: Epilepsy Edition (http://cf-epilepsy.com/) took the lead on the NFL Support Epilepsy Awareness Instagram Page (http://instagram.com/nfl4epilepsy)
Word began to quickly spread and the NFL Support Epilepsy Awareness page began to rise like the birth of a brand new day. Signatures poured in to the CHANGE.org petition and written comments with the signatures along with from all around the country. I recall having a moment of astonishment in the kitchen in which I looked up and said “Lord… Please, please allow this to be.” as a tear trickled down my cheek and a smile rose upon my face.
I thought about the moment when my husband and I visited our favorite NFL Football Team, The Pittsburgh Steelers Football Stadium. My first time ever looking upon a football stadium in my life and it just so happened to be my favorite team. Unfortunately, we happened to visit on a day in which we weren’t able to go inside. HaHa. Regardless, it was a great experience.
Will I ever get to see my favorite team support epilepsy awareness? Will everyone get to see their favorite team support epilepsy awareness? Just exactly as they do for Breast Cancer Awareness in October, only in November?
A few days ago, I thought it a good idea to reach out to a few NFL Football players through The Epilepsy Network (TEN) Twitter page. To my surprise, I had come to find out that The Epilepsy Network had a few NFL supporters that I had not yet been aware of!
Bernard Pollard – American Football Safety for the Tennessee Titans
Terrence Cody – American Football Nose Tackle for the Baltimore Ravens
James Otis Graham, better known as Scottie, is a former professional football player who played running back for six seasons in the NFL; New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals.
These professional NFL Players are following The Epilepsy Network (TEN) and so do they then support the idea of epilepsy awareness in the NFL? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Wherever this road leads I continue to pray and remain steadfast in faith that it will be successful for us all in the name of epilepsy awareness. It began as a thought and took off like a feather in the wind to who knows where it will end up. Somewhere wonderful I sure do pray. Every day I pray.
NFL, for the sake of Epilepsy Awareness can we get a touchdown?
I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!