By Jenn Watt
Katie Woudstra used her time at the microphone to give hope to those struggling with epilepsy. Three years without a seizure Woudstra was emotional standing in front of supporters at the fourth annual Katie’s Run at Sir Sam’s July 11.
When she first started having seizures in 2010 some people around her didn’t know how to help often doing the wrong thing or giving the wrong medication. It was frightening and frustrating.
On Saturday she was able to share her hopeful story with those who had walked biked and jogged wearing the run’s distinctive purple T-shirts to raise money for epilepsy research.
“It’s so much bigger than this day and this run and all these stories” Woudstra said. “I’m so humbled … to look out and see all this purple and from the bottom of my heart I thank you.”
Alongside Woudstra was OPP Sgt. Rob Jamieson who has also struggled with epilepsy and has been seizure free for 11 years. It took many years and plenty of setbacks to find the right medication to stop the seizures and Jamieson said the trial and error he went through should give hope.
“No matter what you want to do in your life there were people who counted me out too” he said.
“I hope one day that we’re really on top of this disorder and I think the awareness of it into the community is one of the biggest things and once people realize it’s nothing to be afraid of – that it’s actually quite common when you look at the statistics – as long as we can be there for each other eventually some of the stigmas associated with epilepsy will dissipate.”
In an interview on Saturday Woudstra said it’s been challenging at times putting one of the most private parts of her life out into the world to raise money for epilepsy research.
“When I meet new people I don’t come out with it. I have to trust them” says Woudstra who is now studying at Redeemer University near Hamilton.
And yet her name adorns the T-shirts and hats seen at the fundraiser each year. She says the trade-off has been worth it with huge support from friends families and strangers and tens of thousands raised to help others.
People sometimes ask her now that she’s gone three years without a seizure why she still does the event.
“It’s showing people you’re not chasing an impossible dream” she says.
Early totals from Katie’s Run this year put funds raised at more than $15000 with money still coming in. You can donate by going to katiesrun.ca.