For three decades, Jessica Palubiskie kept a secret.
It wasn’t until she decided to plan a fundraiser for the Timmins Seizure and Brain Injury Centre that she went public with her story: She has epilepsy.
“I’ve always hid that I’m epileptic. It’s something I can’t say I’m ashamed of, but it made me feel not normal, like I was weak,” she explained.
She was only a baby when she had her first seizure. While she was seizure-free for about five years as a teen, when they started again in her early 20s they hit hard and she was having three to five a week.
With medication, she said it’s calmed over the past 11 years, but she still has about one seizure a month.
Any trepidation she had about telling friends and co-workers quickly went away.
Since sharing her story, she’s been overwhelmed by the response.
“There’s support I never realized I even had,” said an emotional Palubiskie.
The Hoe-Down for Epilepsy is being held Dec. 9 at The Victory Tavern on Cedar Street South.
The Mike Trudell band will be playing, T-shirts supporting epilepsy are being sold for $20 (with $10 from each shirt going to the charity), there’s a raffle for hockey jerseys, prizes for the best cowboy/cowgirl outfit, and games. The day of the fundraiser Reveillo’s Shawarma Shop, which is next to the tavern, is donating $2 from every tornado potato sold to the cause.
Ed Geisler is even getting his beard shaved the night of the event.
To have the honour of making the first cut, Geisler is taking names in exchange for a donation. Whoever’s name is drawn at the event will get the scissors first.
Palubiskie and Geisler have known each other for about 20 years, and she’s never known him to not have a beard.
When he heard about the fundraiser, he immediately got on board.
“It’s only hair, it grows back,” he said, adding his beard has been growing out for 15 months.
“The beard goes, but the moustache stays,” he clarified.
The event will also feature an awareness component, such as cards with details of what you should do if someone near you has a seizure.
What started as a small fundraiser is growing into something much bigger.
Normally when she has fundraisers at the Vic, where she works, she said it brings in $600 to $700.
About $550 has already been raised for the Dec. 9 event.
She chose the Timmins Seizure and Brain Injury Centre to benefit from it because she likes that they help families of people with epilepsy as well.
“I am not the only one that suffers from my illness,” she wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “There's my mom who calls me in a panic if she doesn't hear from me in two days, my sister who is scared to have me live by myself and wants me to move in with her, my friends who drive me to the hospital after I injure myself while having a seizure, or worrying about me taking a bath, or living in an upstairs apartment.”
For more information on the fundraiser, call or text Palubiskie at 705-268-1629 or send a message to The Victory Tavern on Facebook.