The first time Earl Elementary second grader Calliey Gomez suffered an epileptic seizure her parents thought she might have been choking. They had no idea their daughter was having the first of what would become nightly battles with a form of sleeping epileptic seizures. Every night while she sleeps, Calliey has dozens of twitches and mini-seizures.
While her epilepsy is not directly life-threatening, a lack of deep sleep and a host of medications can sometimes affect Calliey’s moods at school. In order to increase awareness about epilepsy at Earl Elementary Calliey’s mom teamed up with her teacher Tanya White and Earl Principal Tami Truax to launch the school’s first ever “Purple Day.”
Across the world March 26 has become Purple Day in an effort to bring awareness to epilepsy.
Epilepsy is defined as a single or group of neurological disorders and it is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. A seizure occurs when the normal electrical balance in the brain is lost. The brain’s nerve cells misfire, either firing when they shouldn’t or not firing when they should. The type of seizure depends on how many cells fire and which parts of the brain are involved. A person having a seizure can experience a change in behavior, consciousness, movement, perception or sensation.
In Calliey’s class several children said they have family members or friends who have seizures.
“I think it is important for kids to learn about epilepsy and that people have a diversity of illnesses and the kids learn to be accepting of that,” said White.
Cupcake Lady Truck owners Troyce and Steve Fraga donated purple frosted cupcakes to top off the Purple Day Celebration at Earl.
“Our son, who is now 27, had epilepsy when he was a kid and he would have seizures in his sleep. It was rough because he was never really rested. But he grew out of it and now he is doing fine,” said Troyce Fraga.
Calliey’s classmates also received a Purple Day wristband and literature on the subject. Truax read a proclamation that pronounced March 26 as Purple Day at Earl Elementary for years to come. Next year, Calliey’s mom, Amber Gomez, hopes to spread Purple Day to all classes on campus.
Purple Day was founded in 2008 by 9-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, with the help of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia. Cassidy chose the color purple after the international color for epilepsy, lavender. The lavender flower is also often associated with solitude, which is representative of the feelings of isolation many people affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders often feel. Cassidy's goal was for people with epilepsy everywhere to know they are not alone.
Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Geoff Regan introduced a bill to Parliament called The Purple Day Act, which will make March 26 the officially recognized day for epilepsy in Canada.
For more information on epilepsy visit www.purpleday.org.