SUDEP took my sister Kim, suddenly at the age of 24. It was the shock of a lifetime that left a deep hole in our family. For years following our loss I had cringed at the mere word ‘epilepsy’ and had essentially tried to block it out. Eventually however I came to realize that I must face it, and that the best way would be head-on, through personally supporting the cause in working toward a cure. I didn’t know how best to proceed with the idea of doing something substantial until:
A meeting with Gary Collins and his excellent team at Epilepsy Canada then sealed the deal as it was clear that their expertise and experience (and immediate willingness to jump aboard) could play an instrumental role in making this the large and fruitful project that I had envisioned. I am so grateful for the support of our friends in this important effort!
Earlier this year, I shared my idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with my close colleague and friend, Leonard Allen, to fund raise for diabetes. I watched helplessly over the last 5 years as it ravished my Mom’s health.
That’s when Leonard told me about the tragedy that befell his sister Kim, and that he shared the same idea – to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise funds to help find a cure for epilepsy in memory of his sister. Kim lost her battle to epilepsy on June 24, 1991 at the young age of 24. I have never seen Leonard as emotional as he was talking about his younger sister and how unaware people in Kim’s life were of this terrible disease. Later that evening, sharing my decision to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with my parents, I was surprised to hear about our relatives who also had suffered and died from this disease.
Quickly after our conversation, Leonard reached out to Epilepsy Canada and introduced me to Gary Collins. After listening to Gary’s story of suffering with epilepsy himself over the last 30 years and its impact on his life, I was further inspired to throw my full support behind Leonard and Gary to bring awareness to epilepsy. In this modern era, I am astounded by the lack of awareness and education of this disease.
In 1985, my life changed when I was suddenly diagnosed with epilepsy.
It was then that I discovered that I was DIFFERENT in a very profound way. I was afraid. I was afraid that people would treat me differently. In addition to being afraid, I was annoyed. I was annoyed because no one could tell me WHY I had this disorder. No one could tell me how I could cure it. No one fully explained the consequences or side effects of taking a severe medication. No one told me, until 2010, that I could die from epilepsy. It wasn’t until 2010 that the medical community finally began to come clean about SUDEP.
In 2010, I also learned that I’m very fortunate. I’m lucky, statistically. I joined the Board of Directors of Epilepsy Canada and learned that my story was everyone’s story. People with epilepsy often suffer in silence. By now, you’ve read some of the startling facts.
I’m excited to be part of Leonard’s team! Although I’m setting out on the journey to help me conquer my own fears, I’m climbing for the 360,000 Canadians, like me, who live with epilepsy. In fact, I’d like to take you along on my back. We’re taking a banner with us as we climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. We’ll have the Kim’s Climb logo on it and our Canadian flag. ADDITIONALLY, if you donate $100 and send me your electronic signature, we’ll put that on the banner as well! I hope that I can take as many of you as I can up that mountain. Doing that you will be my pleasure and inspiration. I hope you can come along for the ride!!!!
Send your signature to email@example.com
*Editor's Note: Gary's full participation in the climb is subject to the approval of his doctors. His determination to date, has enabled him to overcome many obstacles in life. But, he has agreed to govern his actions by their advice. We'll keep you posted.
Cole L. Johnston & Lindsey Mcdonald
We have always been passionate about helping others but it wasn't until recently that we gained firsthand knowledge about what it’s like to have a loved one diagnosed with a life-changing medical condition. This past summer, we fully immersed ourselves in CIBC’s Run for Cure event, where we raised both awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Research. Through this experience, we realized how critical the support of a community is and of the positive impacts a group of people, whether small or large, can have.
When we were approached to join a group of 15 people to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a fund-raising initiative, we jumped at the opportunity. We enjoy challenging ourselves and feel that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, especially for a worthy cause like Epilepsy, will be an adventure that is sure to leave us inspired. After listening to the personal stories of how Epilepsy directly impacted members of the team, we were motivated to throw our full support behind Epilepsy Canada.
While it is a small group who have committed to ascending the mountain, it will take the support of many to accomplish the larger goal of raising $500,000 for Epilepsy. Please join us on this journey in search of a cure.
Very excited to be part of Kim’s climb!!
I am climbing for my sister. Cathie suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of three following an extremely high fever. She experienced multiple seizures throughout her life. Being only seventeen months apart meant we were very close growing up. We shared a room until I left home at age 21. Unfortunately, because of her seizures, Cathie missed out on many of the activities that most children enjoy (riding a bicycle, swimming, going to sleepovers etc.). Yet, through all her challenges she remained my happy, easy-going, loving sister. Luckily now, her seizures are controlled by medication. She is an inspiration to me every day and we remain very close.
Cathie is my reason for committing to this adventure!! I climb in the hope that someday we will find a cure for epilepsy.
When my cousin, Leonard asked me to join him on this climb I didn't hesitate to say yes. Kim was a very special person to everyone in our family and I will always cherish the times we spent together.
It is my privilege to climb in her honour and on behalf of my late father, George Massie, who always had a special bond with Kim.
Katherine & Jim Maga
When Dereck first approached me to see if I would be interested in Kim's Climb, I was in. To raise money for Epilepsy Canada made the choice even easier. Both Jim and I are thrilled to be part of this endeavour. As a Chiropractor I have many patients with Epilepsy. Unfortunately very few people are aware of SUDEP, sudden unexpected death from Epilepsy. It is our commitment to help bring awareness to our local communities of this devastating condition.
I am honored to be part of such an important cause – raising research funding for a cure for Epilepsy and raising awareness.
I am climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to support the approx. 360,000 Canadians that afflicted with Epilepsy. They are unable to partake in many activities the rest of us take for granted due to the sudden seizures they can experience. For the lucky ones, the seizures are controlled by medication. For all, they live with the possibility of SUDEP – Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy. They are an inspiration to me to do something challenging and help in whatever way I can.
I will participate in this endeavor with my husband Dereck, and new friends, in the hope that someday we will find a cure for epilepsy. Your sponsorship, support and generosity will be greatly appreciated.
When a friend sent me information on the group climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for epilepsy research, I was interested for two reasons. It sounded like an exciting adventure and a worthy cause. My son was diagnosed with epilepsy about 4 years ago at the age of 19. As a parent, the feelings of helplessness are strong as you watch your child deal with the impact of epilepsy. Doing the climb and fundraising for research is one way in which I can feel that I am able to help.
My life changed forever, on a cold January night in 1985. I had just turned 14 years old. I remember waking up inside an ambulance strapped to a stretcher. A nurse leaned over me to say that everything would be okay, and the hospital was only a few minutes away, though it actually was a 45 minute drive!! After numerous tests and a hospital stay I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
My epilepsy is from a rare condition called Focal Cortical Dysphasia which is an abnormality of the brain. It occurs when the neurons fail to form together properly in utero. I was scared, upset and never wanted anyone to know I had such a condition for fear of being made fun of and not fitting in.
I had to adjust to a life of medication, healthy eating, reduced stress and proper sleep to help control my seizures. I remember being teased with the nickname “Spacey Tracy”, because the medication that helped to control seizures also made me feel detached from my surroundings sometimes. It was VERY upsetting because it was out of my control. I kept epilepsy a secret from friends, employers and co-workers for 30 years, due to the stigma associated with it.
Three years ago, due to complications arising from epilepsy, I developed hemiplegic migraines - migraines that mimic a stroke - two new types of seizures and hemiparesis which is weakness on one side. But, I continue to fight to live and enjoy life on my terms.