November is national epilepsy awareness month, but the University of Minnesota football team will help raise awareness a few days early this year. The Golden Gophers, in conjunction with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation, will host the second Go-Pher Epilepsy Awareness game this Saturday, Oct. 26 against Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium.
Every four minutes someone receives a diagnosis of epilepsy, which is broadly defined by the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota as a spectrum of disorders with a range of severities, different seizure types, and varying impacts on people. When someone has two or more unprovoked seizures, that person has epilepsy, according to the foundation.
Last year's Go-pher Epilepsy Awareness game, which took place against Michigan, was the first college football game ever to bring awareness to epilepsy, which will affect one in 26 people during their lifetime. Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is one of the 2.2 million people in the United States who suffer from seizures. His condition has been well-documented, and he has vowed to stand up for people with epilepsy.
Coach Kill and his wife Rebecca have been supportive of Epilepsy Foundation programs that help youth with seizures. They have partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation to help educate and raise awareness of epilepsy in order to end the stigma that surrounds seizures. The Kills have attended Camp Oz, a summer camp for kids with seizures, in Hudson, Wis., and invited Epilepsy Foundation's Shining Stars (kids with epilepsy) to spring practice.
The color purple, which is the international color of epilepsy awareness, will be on display this Saturday when the Gophers and Cornhuskers meet in a Big Ten showdown. Members of the Minnesota and Nebraska coaching staffs will wear purple ribbons that are being made by coach Kill's wife, Rebecca.
As they enter the stadium, 50,000 fans will receive rally towels with the logos for Go-pher Epilepsy Awareness, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. Members of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota will be on hand to distribute the towels and answer questions about epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota's "Winning Kid" of the year, Alex Fischer, will be introduced on the field. During the next year, the 13-year-old will participate in a variety of events that help raise awareness of epilepsy including traveling to Washington DC in March 2014 to advocate to elected officials. He will also attend Camp Oz, our Gala and a Twins game.
The Gophers have 43 players from Minnesota on the current roster. Head coach P.J. Fleck has made it a mission to lock up recruiting within a six to eight hour radius of the Twin Cities.
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