Philip Gattone
President and CEO, Epilepsy Foundation

Warren Lammert
Chair of the Board of Directors, Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy is a spectrum disorder. No case of epilepsy is like any other. Some people live with many devastating seizures a day. Some people can be controlled with medication to the point where their seizures are practically hidden. And, there are people living on all points of the spectrum in between. Furthermore, the “comorbidities” of epilepsy, the psychiatric, cognitive, social and somatic complications of epilepsy are similarly on a spectrum, ranging from nonexistent to disabling, and not always linked to the frequency of the seizures—another aspect of the complex “spectrum” nature of epilepsy. This spectrum creates challenges for building a unifying public education and awareness campaign that serves all people with epilepsy, which is part of the Epilepsy Foundation’s mission.

In the past, one of the Foundation’s core messages was that people with epilepsy are able to achieve what everyone else can. While this was an empowering message, it isn’t always true. In fact, the message alienated individuals and families whose epilepsy fell along the most severe end of the spectrum and created a problem for fund raising and advocacy—difficult to lobby for research funding and other increased resources when the message was one of “normalcy”.

As a bold unwavering ally, the Epilepsy Foundation is here to help people living with seizures dare to live to their fullest potential—regardless of where they stand on the spectrum. For people living with epilepsy, the Foundation’s new “#DareTo” campaign focuses on improving understanding and management of their seizures (and its complications), including exploring the best available treatment options and best available care. The campaign underscores the Foundation’s commitment to being bold and aggressive in accelerating change for all people living with epilepsy.

“#DareTo” started during November 2014, National Epilepsy Awareness Month, with a new public service announcement featuring Rick Harrison from TV’s “Pawn Stars.” Harrison, who lived with seizures as a child, is now a national spokesperson for the Foundation and serves on the organization’s national Board of Directors. The PSA will air on the A&E Networks, including History, home of “Pawn Stars” and other series created by Harrison.

“I had bad seizures until I was a teenager. I thought I wouldn’t have the chance to grow up. But, I dared to think differently,” says Harrison in the PSA. “My epilepsy taught me to be a fighter. When I said I wanted to make a TV series out of my pawn shop, people thought I was nuts. But, I dared to defy the odds and Pawn Stars was born. If you have epilepsy, dare to live to your fullest potential. The Epilepsy Foundation will help you dare.”

Engaging a celebrity of Harrison’s caliber will help engage the broader public. "#DareTo" challenges people to better understand epilepsy, to know how to recognize seizures, and to learn proper first aid. In addition, a greater understanding of why epilepsy is relevant in their lives will help create a stronger and more inclusive community to help combat associated psychosocial aspects of the condition like school issues and mood and anxiety problems.

Other key campaign themes to be featured on epilepsy.com, in our social media and through our affiliate network include engaging people with epilepsy to:

  • “Dare to Know” the options for treating epilepsy;
  • “Dare to Ask” for help if their seizures are not under control or if their quality of life is not optimal; and
  • “Dare to Reach Out” to their local Epilepsy Foundations for help and support.

We will also challenge the public to “Dare to Talk About It” to help eliminate misunderstanding about epilepsy and fear of seizures.

The “#DareTo” campaign also serves as a launch pad for the Epilepsy Foundation’s new brand and first major revision of the organizational logo since 1998. The new flame design represents acceleration and motion. The colors give a nod to the organizational history (red) while also acknowledging the international adoption of purple as the representative color for epilepsy awareness. The new font represents the bold and aggressive stance the Foundation is taking to make a difference for people living with epilepsy.

The Epilepsy Foundation will dare to end the status quo in education, awareness, civil rights, and available therapies.

In Epilepsy & Behavior; January 2015; 42: 1.

Reprinted with permission from Epilepsy & Behavior, Elsevier for Editorials.