A few members of our team took part in the 50 Million Steps for Epilepsy Challenge, which ran from Monday 4 January to Monday 8 February. The challenge was organised by the International Bureau for Epilepsy, and was a global effort in the epilepsy community to show our support for the 50 million people living with epilepsy across the world.

After the first two weeks the global target of 50 million steps was smashed!

By the end of Week 5, the Epilepsy Connections team reached a whopping 2.4 million steps! We’re really proud of that result and had a lot of fun taking part in the challenge. Not only did we raise some funds and connect with other epilepsy organisations around the world, but we took some lovely photos of beautiful scenery and got lots of fresh air – the perfect remedy for a dreary January. Thank you to anyone who donated to our JustGiving page! It’s still open for donations if you want to support the 50 Million Steps effort: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/EConnections50MillionSteps.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Our Education and Outreach Worker Colleen has shared her personal 50 Million Steps story with us:

“Now the snow and ice have gone, this Monday was the first time I got outside to cycle as my contribution to the 50 million steps global campaign. So much better than the indoor exercise bike to see sunlight, breathe in fresh air and feel raindrops on your face.

Every journey starts with the first step. And this was one I took on behalf of my mum, who is currently in a care home. Part of my journey was to visit my dad’s grave, which my mum would dearly want to do but is unable to due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My parents met in 1959, adored each other, and this picture of them in their early courtship days is a favourite of mine.

Joe and Pat in Dublin in 1960.

Two days before Christmas 2019, my mum had a stroke when staying with us. The stroke affected her right parietal lobe, but with the quick transfer by the paramedics to the hospital (helped by my 12-yr-old daughter as my first-aid assistant), her progress was good enough that she was allowed out of the stroke ward for a few hours on New Year’s Day 2020 for a traditional steak pie dinner back home with us.

New Year is connected across the world with Robert Burns and “Auld Lang Syne”.

New Year’s Day 2020 was more “To a Mouse” -“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an Men gang aft agley”. Me and mum got as far in the car as the first roundabout out of the hospital, when her face and jaw clenched, she lost consciousness and then her body and limbs went into convulsive movements. We were in sight of the A&E entrance, so it was straight back to the hospital. Thanks, again, to the ambulance crews parked at the entrance who managed to lift her out of the passenger seat and send her back to the neurology ward.

A few more of these “episodes” on the ward that night, and a diagnosis of epilepsy was given. She was started on an anti-seizure medication, and with the exception of one break-through seizure on a particularly-stressful week, my mum has had freedom from seizures in the year that has passed.

2020 didn’t start well for my mum, and the pandemic has pushed her physical and mental strengths to their limits. She is eager to reconnect with her children, grandchildren and her wider family, and is hopefully a step closer now that she’s received her first COVID-19 vaccination! Hopefully this is the start of a journey back to a life that is currently on hold.”