MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gopher football coach Jerry Kill is one of the more than two million Americans who suffer from epileptic seizures.
He and his wife, Rebecca, are reaching out for the first time to others with the condition.
And on Saturday at TCF Stadium, the team will be showing its support.
In honor of epilepsy awareness, the color purple will be seen along with the maroon and gold.
This was a big decision — to go so public with this.
It’s not that people aren’t aware of coach Kill’s condition. It’s that this is one of the first steps he and his wife are taking in becoming public spokespeople on behalf of epilepsy.
“It wasn’t easy for for coach Kill or Rebecca to step up and put their name on something personal,” said Vicki Kopplin of the Minnesota Epilepsy Foundation. “But it makes a tremendous amount of difference to people living with dealing with seizures every day.
On Saturday, towels will be handed out to 20,000 fans.
“If we can help one person, or 10 people with what we’re doing, then that’s worth it,” Rebecca said.
She has watched and stood by her husband since his condition started 13 years ago. While stress can contribute to the onset of a seizure, they accept responsibility in managing it.
“There’s a lot people who are stressed, CEO of companies — everybody is tired,” Rebecca said. “That’s the way our lives are right now.”
But Kill’s burden is now being publicly embraced as an opportunity to knock down barriers.
“We heard from somebody who said, ‘Finally, someone’s talking about it in a positive way,'” Kopplin said.
Said Rebecca: “I think this is what God wants me to do. I’ve been praying about it, and woke up, and said ‘This is what I’m supposed to do.'”
Some 60,000 are believed to have some level of epilepsy in Minnesota, according to Kopplin, and many that don’t even know they’ve suffered seizures.