Saturday, residents of Galveston will pedal their way through downtown during the fourth annual Pedal 4 Purple — a special bike ride fundraising event here in town.
Why purple? Purple is the color of epilepsy awareness, creating a unity among the people who live with this condition and their families all around the world. This weekend, that spirit is coming to Galveston.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy during their lifetime.
I am one of these Americans. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10, and for years tried countless medications to get my seizures under control.
Unfortunately, I have the type of epilepsy that is resistant to medication. Not only did it not help control my seizures, but I lived with many side effects from weight gain to feeling tired all the time. Growing up with epilepsy was tough, to say the least.
When I was 26 in 2000, I received a new treatment called Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy, a pacemaker-like device that sends intermittent pulses to the brain to reduce seizures.
VNS Therapy is made “just up the road” by Cyberonics in Houston. Fourteen years later, I am fortunate to say that I have good control of my epilepsy with this device and rarely experience seizures.
While my health is in check, epilepsy is never far from my mind, and I’ve never forgotten the feeling of losing independence and confidence from this condition.
In addition to the seizures, one of the biggest challenges in having epilepsy is that — despite how many people it impacts — there is still so much stigma surrounding it.
For this reason, I became inspired to help support The Anita Kaufmann Foundation, which helps to fight the fear and misunderstanding that people with epilepsy often face.
Pedal 4 Purple brings together some of my passions in life — bike riding, supporting epilepsy and celebrating with the community in Galveston.
In addition to founding Pedal 4 Purple, I am also closely involved in a new Galveston County Epilepsy Awareness Support Group in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas.
I have found there are many great ways to get involved with this important cause right here in Galveston.
This year’s Pedal 4 Purple event will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday starting at the Press Box, 2401 Postoffice St., and running throughout Galveston Island.
All proceeds will benefit the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. Pedal 4 Purple is held just before the Foundation’s own national Purple Day, taking place Wednesday.
Come join us — and bring friends and family — as we raise awareness and funds for epilepsy advocacy in Galveston. As I always say, “Positive vibrations.”
Mickey Naschke Jr. is the founder of Pedal 4 Purple.