A COLAC district family will tackle the Great Wall of China to raise awareness of epilepsy.
Irrewillipe’s Tom Riches, 8, has epilepsy, and his parents Chris and Paula are raising money to help their son and other people with epilepsy, and to help change society’s views of the condition.
Mrs Riches said the couple was past the halfway mark to raise $7000 for Epilepsy Action Australia so they can join 18 other people hiking the Great Wall in September.
“It’s all been driven by Torn, we are well aware as a family that things could be much, much worse for anyone,” she said.
“He’s had a tough time with his medicine, but we’ve always looked at it that you can find someone really quickly who’s in a worse situation, so we’re not doing this to draw attention to Tom, we’re doing it to draw attention to epilepsy.
“It is very common and it’s common after injuries as a result of an accident … but there is so much stigma around it, fear of the unknown and lack of understanding.
“I think it’s just breaking down the barriers, we want people to see it as something not to fear.”
The fundraising will go towards epilepsy research and education, while the Riches will cover their own travel expenses.
“Twenty people register to go on the walk and each person fundraises a minimum on $3500 for the charity, from the charity’s perspective it’s a $70,000 injection for them,” Mrs Riches said.
She said the family had already received contributions from the community and businesses, including a $500 donation from Colac women’s group Meriba.
“As soon as they found out a couple of the ladies from the Meriba club said ‘what could we do to help?’.”
The fundraising has brought the Riches into contact with other families in the Colac area going through the same ordeal.
“We’ve gotten to know a lot of people whose kids have had epilepsy or people that have had epilepsy,” Mr Riches said.
“Each year we do a run in Melbourne, which has grown momentum,” she said.
Mrs Riches said the family was confident Tom, who still-requires regular checkups and takes medication, would overcome epilepsy.
“Tom does everything normally; his worst side-effects come from medicine, not actually the condition,” she said.
“He’s had changes in his medication recently, which is making a massive difference to him; we hope that Tom will grow out of it, because he’s an infantile.”
Anyone wishing to donate the Riches’ cause can visit www.epilepsygreatwal12014.gofundraise.com.au/page/RichesCP