With no epilepsy support centre in town, Leslie Moutsatsos and Jenny Lamothe want to build support for Epilepsy Awareness Month
By Deron Hamel
March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and with no epilepsy support centre in Greater Sudbury, Leslie Moutsatsos and Jenny Lamothe have taken it upon themselves to create a campaign to raise awareness of seizure disorders in the Nickel City.
Both Moutsatsos and Lamothe understand the importance of raising awareness about epilepsy; Moutsatsos’s son, Troy, and Lamothe are living with the condition, which affects an estimated one per cent of Canadians.
It was only a few weeks ago when Moutsatsos, who co-owns a restaurant, P&M’s Kouzzina, teamed up with Lamothe, a freelance writer, to create the awareness campaign.
P&M’s Kouzzina is a popular eatery in Sudbury, so it was a natural fit to use the restaurant as an avenue to reach people. Moutsatsos has turned to her business contacts to gain support for the campaign, and everyone has been quick to jump on board.
“It has exploded since then,” Moutsatsos tells Voices of Epilepsy.
To contribute to the campaign, 15 Sudbury businesses are donating portions of their sales to epilepsy research or decorating their establishments in purple, the official colour of epilepsy awareness.
P&M’s Kouzzina is donating $2 from selected meal and beverage items to epilepsy research. There are also T-shirts for sale that include a $4 donation. Bella Flora, a local florist, is donating money from the sale of purple flower arrangements. Pricked Tattoos is donating all money raised from a tattoo auction. Laurentian Chrysler has purple balloons tied to cars on display in its lot throughout March.
People are taking notice of the campaign, and that’s encouraging, Moutsatsos says. At a recent event P&M’s Kouzzina hosted, there was a young woman who has epilepsy attending. She approached Moutsatsos to tell her how happy she was to see the awareness campaign gaining momentum.
“It was the very first time in her 24 years that she has now felt comfortable enough to say to people, ‘I have epilepsy.’ She is so proud to say it and not be shy, embarrassed or stigmatized,” Moutsatsos says.
“Those are the stories we want everyone to realize.”
Lamothe says the most exciting part of the campaign for her has been learning about the many people in Greater Sudbury who’ve been looking for more epilepsy awareness and are now seeing it through this campaign.
“They’ve been feeling that not only is there no one here (offering epilepsy support services), but that they have been left to themselves to figure out how to live their best life with epilepsy,” she says.
“For me, it has been (exciting) to see how many people have been so supportive and seeing people with epilepsy come forward.”
Moutsatsos and Lamothe say they plan to make this an annual campaign that will snowball. With no epilepsy support centre in town, Moutsatsos says Sudbury has not “gone purple” yet, but she’s determined to see that change.
“I don’t know how purple we are yet; we might just be a light mauve, but by next year we plan on being deep, vibrant purple,” she says.
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