BEAVERCREEK — Fans attending the Beavercreek - Fairmont basketball game Friday night might have been confused to see the typical orange and black colors of the Beavers replaced with purple warm-up shirts before the game. More astute fans would have noticed a large amount of people also wearing purple in the crowd. Friday night was Beavercreek’s first-ever Purple Out and it was for a good cause.
Jessica Waters is a junior at the high school who cheers, plays lacrosse and manages the men’s hockey team. She is a passionate student, and her passion carries over to another cause. Epilepsy awareness.
Waters was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 11 years old, and she has been working her hardest to educate people about it ever since.
“Epilepsy is the number one most misunderstood mental disorder that there is. It’s a seizure disorder, and anyone at anytime can have a seizure if you have a brain. Anyone can,” she said. “I have a friend of mine on the hockey team who is diabetic, but he never thought about the fact that he could have a seizure. He had a diabetic-induced seizure and nobody on the hockey team knew what to do.”
“There’s a lot of steps that can be taken to insure the safety of someone having a seizure. If someone hits their head while having a seizure, it can cause serious damage. But if only one person was there to catch their head, that could save their life.”
Along with the Beavercreek athletic department, Waters helped put together the Purple Out to honor two Beavercreek students who have recently passed away due to epilepsy, and to raise awareness of the disorder.
Raffle tickets were handed out with candy and first aid tips, and purple shirts were available to those interested. Facts were read over the public address system, and prizes were awarded, all to help educate students. There was also a “Purple Out” at Friday night’s hockey game.
“There’s a lot of people at the high school who have epilepsy or seizure disorders and there’s not very much understanding about it,” she said. “The main point is to get the word out their about seizures, and educate people on how to take of people while they’re having seizures.”
At halftime, Waters presented Beavercreek athletic director, Jim Smerz with a commemorative plaque thanking him for helping with the event and honoring those who have suffered from the disorder.
Waters has always been passionate about helping those that suffer from epilepsy. When she was 12 years old, she started a foundation called Cupcakes for Camp where she helped send people with seizure disorders to summer camps, because that was something that helped her when she was dealing with her diagnoses.
“I was afraid I would never be able to do the things that I wanted to do in life. And my mom found this camp and forced me to go, because I didn’t want to. And I went was able to horseback ride and canoe, and make friends,” she said. “I felt that just because I had epilepsy did not mean I couldn’t overcome it or do the things I wanted to do. It just meant I had to work a little harder and maybe get a little bit of help from people sometimes.”
Waters said she was humbled when she saw people that were worse off than her, but still happy. She has been trying to help make others happy ever since.