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Sarah Klein is the CEO of Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado headquartered in Greenwood Village, CO. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube and learn more at epilepsycolorado.org.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am the CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado, so I oversee all of our programs and fundraising efforts, and manage our amazing team of dedicated and passionate staff. Quite simply, we exist to provide support and resources for people who are affected with epilepsy and seizures.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED YOU?
Three simple words define the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado: Empowering, Connecting, and Educating. We empower people affected by epilepsy with knowledge, resources, and advocacy to live their best lives. We connect people to healthcare providers, support networks, and a listening ear. And we educate schools, employers, and the community at large, to reduce stigma and raise awareness.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We make a difference every day in our community in big and small ways, whether it’s by giving a child with epilepsy the opportunity to go to overnight camp for the first time, or by providing reduced-cost mental health services to a caregiver struggling with depression, by educating first responders on seizure first aid, or by advocating for increased research funding – we are making the world a better place for people with epilepsy, and we’re helping individuals live their best lives, too.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
There are nearly 60,000 people in Colorado who are living with epilepsy – that’s more than the number of people living with MS, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy, combined. Our community is HUGE, but people often still feel isolated and hesitant to admit they live with epilepsy. We’re inspired every day to help raise awareness and make sure people know they are not alone!
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM, FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our goal is for our organization to reach every one of the nearly 60,000 people in Colorado who are living with epilepsy, as well as their family members and friends who are also impacted by this condition, knowing the toll it can take on both physical and emotional well-being. And after that, we want to extend our reach into our neighboring states of Wyoming, New Mexico, and Montana, where there is not currently an Epilepsy Foundation presence, so that we can provide resources and support to individuals and families in those communities as well.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THAT DREAM COME TRUE?
Like every other non-profit, money is always the key resource! But we also need volunteers to carry our work into new communities, and share our message, and help us spread awareness and hope.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
We continue to face the challenges of misinformation and stigma that are often perpetuated in the media. Many people don’t know how common epilepsy is – but 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime! It’s very likely that all of us know someone right now who is affected by this condition, so it’s important to be educated, and aware, and most of all, kind.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Don’t be afraid to ask for money. Everyone wants to make a difference in the world – they often just need to be shown how they can do it.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Epilepsy is about way more than just seizures. It affects a person’s entire life- the unpredictability and anxiety, increased rates of depression and joblessness, issues with driving and interpersonal relationships… the list of associated challenges can seem endless. The Epilepsy Foundation seeks to be a partner and ally in the lifelong journey with epilepsy for everything that happens outside of the doctor’s office so that no one has to face these challenges alone.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Learn seizure first aid. Come to our annual Strides for Epilepsy 5K. Sponsor a child to attend one of our summer camps. Or get a foursome to play in our Golf Tournament!
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