Photo: “I personally feel that epilepsy doesn’t get the awareness that it deserves. It affects over six million people worldwide, and it’s just as common as breast cancer is. And I just think it really does
deserve more awareness than it is given.” Samantha Havlin, Kaneland High School junior photo by Lynn Logan
KANELAND—People can learn more about epilepsy this month thanks to Samantha Havlin, a junior at Kaneland High School.
Havlin, an Elburn resident, recently organized “Seize the Purple,” a DECA project that is a 5k walk-and-run event intended to create epilepsy awareness in the local community. The event will take place on Saturday, April 19, at Kaneland Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.
Why purple? It’s the color of epilepsy awareness.
“I personally feel that epilepsy doesn’t get the awareness that it deserves,” Havlin said. “It affects over 6 million people worldwide, and it’s just as common as breast cancer is. And I just think it really does deserve more awareness than it is given.”
Havlin said she has noticed KHS students who have epilepsy.
“I would say a hundred percent, they are exactly like you and I,” Havlin said. “They’re normal people. They just have frequent seizures.”
Josh Marczuk, an eighth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, was diagnosed with epilepsy during his basketball season this year.
Marczuk acknowledged that having epilepsy can sometimes be hard.
“Always having to be aware of stuff,” he said.
Marczuk pointed out that he has to sleep eight to 10 hours so that a seizure won’t be triggered. And what should a person do if they happen to be around Marczuk while he has a seizure?
“Call my mom,” Marczuk said. “Or 911. And put me on my side.”
Marczuk said he experiences a “black out” during a seizure. Sharon Marczuk, Josh’s mom, described what it is like to see her son suffer a grand mal seizure in front of her, shaking and biting his tongue for “a minute or so.”
“It seems forever,” Sharon said. “Probably one of the most traumatizing things to see.”
Sharon expressed her gratitude for the upcoming 5k event.
“I do know from my younger child (Jimmy), being diagnosed with cancer as a baby that until it touches you, you really don’t understand the whole concept of having a child who is sick,” she said. “So the fact that she doesn’t (know the concept first-hand) and wants to raise all this awareness for a good cause is just awesome.”
Havlin’s mom, Melissa Hubbard, said that she is proud of her daughter.
“(Samantha) really, really wants to make a difference,” Hubbard said. “And I think learning the awareness and bringing it in our area definitely stands for a lot.”
The walk will begin at 9 a.m., with the run scheduled to kick off at 9:15 a.m.
A free Easter Egg Dash will take place on the school’s track prior to the walk. Children aged 10 and under are invited to participate in the dash. They will have an opportunity to seek colorful eggs—particularly purple—filled with candy treats. Free pizza and water will also be available.
Both Josh and Sharon plan on being at the race.
“Well, I definitely don’t think I’ll be running,” Sharon said with a laugh. “But yeah. I’m hoping to walk in it.”
The registration fee is $30, which includes a T-shirt and goodie bag. Those interested in participating can register the day of the event or by visiting raceroster.com and typing the event name “Seize the Purple.”