I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness Expo: A Great Success!
First, our Executive Director, Kim Davidson, welcomed everyone, thanking the sponsors and partners who helped make the day possible; the presenters and speakers who would soon be sharing their knowledge and stories with us; and all of the attendees for coming together to be VOICES for epilepsy. She also mentioned the work that the BC Epilepsy Society has done for the past 60 years to support people living with epilepsy and their families and to raise awareness of epilepsy not just in BC and Canada but around the world.
Kim then introduced Councillor Christine Boyle, who said a few words about the event and the BC Epilepsy Society on behalf of the Mayor and City Council of Vancouver.
After this, a representative was introduced to share words on behalf of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was unable to attend the event in person.
Next, keynote speaker, Christine Jamieson took to the stage to talk about her struggles with epilepsy and mental health and about how she uses her platforms both as Miss BC 2018/2019 and as Miss Canada 2019 to be a VOICE to awareness of epilepsy in the community.
After that, Cassidy Megan, the founder of International PURPLE DAY™ for Epilepsy Awareness, joined us from Nova Scotia via video chat, to discuss the importance of epilepsy awareness and the need to be a VOICE for epilepsy in our communities.
Attendees were then treated to the musical stylings of Emma Knelson, a singer/songwriter from Vancouver Island, who sang the first of her two songs of the expo, singing a cover of A Thousands Years.
After this, Amanda Plomp, a marathon runner living with epilepsy, took to the stage to discuss her epilepsy journey as well as her story about running in races and marathons around the world. She mentioned how she is much more than just a person living with epilepsy and how she is much more than an athlete ... she is a VOICE.
After that, Fran Turauskis, the founder of Seize Your Adventure, joined us from the UK via video chat. She discussed her epilepsy journey and how doing solo hikes and other adventures post-diagnosis, inspired her to start a website and podcast platform to feature adventure tourism by people living with epilepsy all around the world. She also mentioned her 30 at 30 initiative of doing 30 adventures in the year she turns 30 and invited any attendees who would like to participate – whether in person or remotely – to join her in this adventure!
After a short break, professional golfer, engineer and ordained minister, Tyler Barton joined us from Texas via video chat. He discussed being diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age and how he competed to become a 2x World Long Drive champion. He also mentioned how he became a VOICE for epilepsy and how much he believes in what the BC Epilepsy Society does for people living with epilepsy and to raise awareness of epilepsy.
After this, a presentation on Depression and Anxiety was done by registered clinical counsellor, Rosalyn Best Clark from Ros Best Counselling. She mentioned that positive mental health is not just influenced by receiving support from others but also by providing support to others. She also talked about the importance of the BC Epilepsy Society to help the mental health of people living with and affected by epilepsy, through our support groups, our Epilepsy Friends Forever (EFF) program and our BC Epilepsy Parents Network (BCEPN) program.
Just before breaking for lunch, the BC Epilepsy Society was awarded a cheque from Chalet Lights, totaling just over $17,000 in donations!
After lunch, a presentation on Family Law, Custody Law and Epilepsy was done by Leena Yousefi from YLaw Group. She provided information on the parental rights of parents living with epilepsy, which was very helpful to many attendees.
After this, a presentation on Employment Law and Epilepsy was done by Jay Spiro from Yeager Employment Law. He provided information which was helpful not just for people living with epilepsy but also for people with other disabilities and/or other medical conditions.
After a short break, Allison Hegedus, President of Vida Spa and author, took to the stage to discuss her epilepsy story, how she became a VOICE for epilepsy and her career journey from being an esthetician, to a skin care sales rep, to a spa owner and finally to her current role as President of Vida Spa. She also discussed the book that she authored, entitled Unashamed and Unafraid: My Journey with Epilepsy, which will be released in Fall 2019, with 100% of proceeds going to the BC Epilepsy Society!
Attendees were again treated to the musical stylings of Emma Knelson, who sang the second of her two songs of the expo, singing a cover of Hallelujah.
After this, a presentation on Epilepsy 101 was done by Kelly Anderson, the Epilepsy Surgery Program Nurse in the BC Children's Hospital Neurology Clinic. She provided an informative talk on what epilepsy is, how to diagnose and treat epilepsy and some important safety considerations to do with epilepsy.
The last presentation of the day was on VNS Neuromodulation Therapy and was done by Cameron Finlay from LivaNova. He presented on the implantable technology of VNS as a treatment option for epilepsy.
Attendees of the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness Expo also got the chance to check out many booths at the event, including a booth by GOLD’S GYM, a photo booth that was enjoyed by many and a seizure virtual reality simulation put on by UCB!
We hope that everyone enjoyed the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness Expo! Videos of the presentations will soon be shared on our website, YouTube channel and social media platforms, so keep an eye out for that!