Chinchilla man’s heartfelt reason for epilepsy awareness marathon
INSPIRED everyday by his sisters' strength and burdened by the fact he doesn't share their affliction - Jeremy Drabsch is putting his heart and soul into a charity run to support and raise awareness for Epilepsy Queensland.
Mr Drabsch, 27, said he has always wanted to do something for his younger sisters Courtney and Portia, and being locked up during COVID-19 started a fire in him to run a marathon even though he's never ran before.
"I've always wanted to do something for both of them, and in general for epilepsy, because I feel like many people don't grasp the impact it can have on peoples lives," he said.
"During COVID I started to take up running to deal with my own COVID related struggles… (and) I sort of came out the other end a lot better off physically and mentally, and I wanted to do something to challenge myself and realised it would be the perfect lens to try and raise money for epilepsy."
With his limited experience, Mr Drabsch said he knows he's in for a world of pain - but that's exactly the point.
"A big part of it is that I wanted to do something to cause me suffering, pain, and agony, that I'd want to quit from, because that's the point; we are lucky we can stop the race if becomes too much, but others don't have that option," he said.
"For a large part of my life there has been this guilt that both my sisters got epilepsy and I somehow managed not to get it, so I think the suffering the race will bring… it's sort of like my own version of self-inflicted punishment.
"I can use it to frame the challenge that is epilepsy because I can say, 'well this race is going to be very difficult and I will suffer through, but it is relatively short in comparison to the suffering my sisters have to deal with, or anyone with epilepsy."
Mr Drabsch said he will never forget the terrifying moment he saw his sister have a seizure for the first time, falling back and hitting her head on cement.
"It made this terrible sound, like a watermelon smashing, it was horrible, and to see Courtney siting there having a fit, her body writhing and shaking uncontrollably," he said.
"Then she comes out it… the scariest part is not knowing if they're going to be the same person or not, because it just takes one head to the cement the wrong way and they're never the same again, one bad fall and that person may never be the same or they might die.
"I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy to see someone you care about go through that."
It's a day-to-day struggle for those who suffer from epilepsy, Mr Drabsch said his sister Courtney's body has been so badly injured from her falls that she needs surgery.
She also lost her apprenticeship with a major company because of the unpredictable nature of the disease.
"She has to have shoulder reconstructive surgery now because she's landed on it so many times, now it dislocates so easily, even when she's asleep… but now she can't pay for surgery because she can't hold a job for things totally out of side of her control.," he said.
Mr Drabsch said not a lot of people seem to comprehend the true devastation epilepsy can have on families, and his goal is to raise that awareness.
"The charity I chose, Epilepsy Queensland, does do research, helps to support people with epilepsy, but they also do a lot of awareness work," he said.
"That would be the main goal, even if I just inspire my main group of friends, if they go away with a better understand of epilepsy, then that's sort of mission accomplished to me."
Whenever life gets tough, Mr Drabsch said his sisters help him stay grounded.
"They're so strong and happy, it's very inspiring for me to keep that in perspective… to think back to what they have to deal with and still stay strong," he said.
"It's been a huge inspiration to me."
Mr Drabsch is a quarter into his fundraising goal of $10,000 and will be running the 50km Marathon on the Gold Coast in 45 days.
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