Queen’s student leads fundraising initiative for Epilepsy Canada

Loryanne Bessette to run 100 km in 24 hours to raise awareness for epilepsy  

Loryanne Bessette hopes to de-stigmatize Epilepsy

“Epilepsy is a cause that’s very close and dear to my heart.”

On Aug. 14, Loryanne Bessette will be running 100 km in 24 hours for Canadians diagnosed with epilepsy. The funds she raises will go towards research for a cure through Epilepsy Canada.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by unprovoked seizures in people of all ages. The causes for epilepsy can be attributed to an array of health problems. Over 50 per cent of those diagnosed with epilepsy don’t know the cause of the disorder.  

In collaboration with Epilepsy Canada, Bessette is working on providing fundraising packages and outreach necessary for the Kingston community to become more aware of and destigmatize the disorder.

“My big goal off the bat is to break the stigma about what people think epilepsy is like,” Bessette said in an interview with The Journal.

“I really want to raise awareness about epilepsy first-aid,” she added.

Epilepsy first-aid is a guideline that offers information of care and comfort for anyone experiencing a seizure.

According to Bessette, stigma surrounding epilepsy can cause those diagnosed with the disorder to feel isolated or unwelcome in social settings.

Bessette was diagnosed with epilepsy at 14 years old.

She said she remembers being admitted into the hospital for three days during her third year of university. After being prescribed medication for her epilepsy, Bessette realized the severity of her disorder and began her own research.

During her research, she came across a statistic stating that one in 100 people live with epilepsy.  

“When I found out that number, knowing that as a kid I struggled with epilepsy, I wanted to do something big, and show others what you can achieve with epilepsy,” Bessette said.

Bessette said her own research into the disorder inspired her to take a stand for epilepsy awareness.

“Raising awareness about epilepsy at Queen’s is huge. Even if it’s one in 100, there’s a lot of students affected by it, whether it be students themselves or family members.”

People who are interested in joining the run with Bessette can do so virtually at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 or set up a team for an ultimate 100 km relay. Participants will have a chance to virtually celebrate reaching the finish line at 7 p.m.

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