Dad and daughter hope their awareness run sparks change

July 26, 2012

Trevor Lewis says he hopes the upcoming Run for Epilepsy he and his daughter, Katie, are organizing will help raise awareness about epilepsy in the community and possibly act as a catalyst for establishing an epilepsy agency in his hometown of Thunder Bay.

Trevor notes that there’s a great need for more available resources for northern Ontarians living with epilepsy, and this year’s run could help set the wheels of change in motion through awareness and community engagement.

The idea for the Aug. 19 run was sparked by Katie in 2010. After watching her dad train for and compete in a run to raise money for a local children’s music festival that year, she asked Trevor if the pair could train together for a run to raise money for Epilepsy Ontario.

Trevor and Katie, who are both living with the neurological disorder, then contacted former Epilepsy Ontario executive director Dianna Findlay to get permission to run under the Epilepsy Ontario name, which she granted.

The father-and-daughter team then launched a Facebook page to garner attention. They began training in February 2011 for the Thunder Bay Marathon, which was taking place in September. The run allows participants to raise money for the cause of their choice.

Initially, Trevor says he and Katie thought they might get about 60 people “liking” the Facebook page — and that their fans would be mostly friends and family members.

By the time the big event came on Sept. 18, the page had more than 1,000 likes from people in more than 20 countries.

The Facebook page also helped Trevor and Katie get 25 more runners on their team. Team Epilepsy Ontario raised almost $8,000.

“We had people, not just from Thunder Bay, but also from Manitoba and southern Ontario, coming up to join us, so it reached out to quite a few people and made quite a big difference,” says Trevor.

“It was much bigger than Katie and I had ever dreamed.”

After Trevor and Katie’s success in the Thunder Bay Marathon, the Running Room contacted them to discuss collaborating to launch a run dedicated solely to raising money for epilepsy causes.

And all this started from Katie’s idea.

“It’s pretty neat,” says Katie, 18, when asked how it feels to have been the one to initiate what would become the Run for Epilepsy. “I thought it would only be just a couple people.”

Katie adds her grandparents will be visiting from southern Ontario during this year’s run, and that she’s looking forward to having them there to cheer for her and her dad.

Although the event is called a “run,” Trevor underscores that participants can also walk, rollerblade, skateboard or bicycle the distance.

“There’s no need for anyone to feel that they cannot come out and participate,” he says.

The Run for Epilepsy takes place Aug. 19 at Chapples Park in Thunder Bay and starts at 9 a.m. Participants can run either the 2.5-kilometre or five-kilometre events.

You can learn about the event, including how to register, by visiting the Run for Epilepsy website. Click here to join the Run for Epilepsy Facebook page.

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Writer: Deron Hamel