Author: Joanna Swanson, Head of Direct Sales, First National Bank of Omaha

The month of November is designated as National Epilepsy Awareness Month, which poses an opportunity to educate the public about epilepsy and shed an important light on the epilepsy community. To learn more about how national organizations are getting involved in the cause, we spoke with Tom Buckley, Director of Information and Referral of the Epilepsy Foundation

What is the Epilepsy Foundation and what is its mission?

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with nearly 50 local organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. We are an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. We work to prevent, control, and cure epilepsy through community services, public education, federal and local advocacy, and supporting research into new treatments and therapies. We work to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. Our mission is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

How does your organization raise support and awareness?

The Epilepsy Foundation raises awareness and support through various means. Our 24/7 Epilepsy & Seizures Helpline, network of local Epilepsy Foundations, and a volunteer outreach program called the Community Action Network each provide support, education, and awareness one-on-one and directly in local communities. Our public awareness and education programs seek to improve understanding of epilepsy, reduce fear, and improve seizure recognition and first aid. National initiatives include events like the annual National Walk for Epilepsy, programs like Athletes vs. Epilepsy and Talk About It, as well as media campaigns and other specialized initiatives.

What is the importance of National Epilepsy Awareness Month? How can people further lend their support to this important cause?

The Epilepsy Foundation has celebrated National Epilepsy Awareness Month since 1969. In 2003, Congress passed a formal resolution declaring November as National Epilepsy Awareness Month. In 2017, we are building on our #AimForZero and #ShareMySeizure campaigns launched in 2016. #AimForZero raises awareness about sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and encourages individuals with epilepsy to know their risk and take action to minimize it. #ShareMySeizure is an education and awareness initiative that seeks to improve public recognition of seizures, understanding of epilepsy, and knowledge about proper seizure first aid. Additionally, the initiative encourages people living with seizures to seek out the best specialty treatment available for optimal control and quality of life. We encourage everyone to help others to #AimForZero and #ShareMySeizure.

We thank Tom for sharing his insights with us. To share what National Epilepsy Awareness Month means to you or to learn more about the Enable Savings Plan, visit our Facebook page.