Lifestyle

It’s almost time to turn Echuca-Moama purple

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March 12, 2018

Purple Day fundraiser Shirley O'Bree. Photo by Luke Hemer.

ECHUCA’S Shirley O’Bree (pictured above) has been seizure free for almost six years.

And for the past five, she has raised more than $17,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation, which has provided her with so much support over the years.

Purple Day is a cause close to her heart; enduring regular epileptic seizures for 54 years.

However, since brain surgery in 2012, Mrs O’Bree has not suffered one seizure.

So grateful for her new lease on her life, she started holding a morning tea every year for Purple Day to raise some much-needed money and awareness.

But along the way, local businesses and schools have joined her efforts, including 19 in Rochester and about 30 across Echuca-Moama this year.

The Cunningham Downs resident is now in her fifth year and she is hoping to crack the $20,000 mark.

‘‘That would be wonderful,’’ she said.

‘‘It feels good to know how much I’ve raised, especially after what I went through and survived.’’

Mrs O’Bree is one of an estimated 2.9 million people in Australia aged over 65 with epilepsy — a demographic group with the highest proportions of people with epilepsy.

And through her morning teas, she hopes to give people a better understanding of the disease.

‘‘I hope I am getting the message out there and making people more aware,’’ she said.

This year’s event, to be held on March 22, will have Natalie Kellalea as guest speaker.

The 28-year-old Numurkah woman, who suffered such debilitating epilepsy she couldn’t shower or walk to her mailbox on her own, underwent a world-first procedure in December 2016.

The pioneering treatment, which has since been used on another five people, saw a pump implanted in her abdomen that delivers medication directly into her brain.

It has worked so well, she has gone from having up to eight seizures a day to one a week.

Mrs O’Bree said Mrs Kellalea would share her story at the event, which would also include morning tea catered by Wharparilla Auxiliary, raffles, lucky door prizes and entertainment by Murray Singers.

‘‘We usually get about 90 to 100 people there and it’s always a good morning,’’ she said.

‘‘Comments I’ve had from people include ‘I’m so glad I went because I didn’t know that about epilepsy’ or ‘I learnt what to do if someone is having an seizure’.’’

The morning tea will be held at 10am at Cunningham Downs community hall. People need to book by March 16 by contacting Mrs O’Bree on 0418505243.

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