BTN LiveBIG: Minnesota, Jerry Kill working to beat epilepsy
On Oct. 26, the University of Minnesota made history when it upset Nebraska. It was the first Gopher win over the Cornhuskers since 1960, and was arguably the biggest victory during Jerry Kill’s tenure as head coach.
Indeed, many of the events surrounding that Saturday’s game – the second annual Go-Pher Epilepsy Awareness Game – make Oct. 26 a date that will be circled by many fans of both the university and Coach Kill for a long time.
After suffering a seizure before the Gophers’ Oct. 5 game in Ann Arbor, Coach Kill and Minnesota Director of Athletics Norwood Teague announced five days later that Kill would be stepping away from the day-to-day coaching of the Gophers to focus on the treatment and management of his epilepsy.
In his statement that day, Kill said:
“My wife Rebecca, myself and our two daughters want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns during the last few weeks. This was a difficult decision to make, but the right decision. Our staff has been together a long time and I have full confidence in Coach Claeys and them during my time away. Every decision that will be made will be in the best interest of the players and the program. I look forward to returning to the Minnesota sideline on a full-time basis soon.”
The 2012 Go-pher Epilepsy Awareness game, which took place against Michigan, was the first college football game ever to bring awareness to epilepsy. Studies show that epilepsy will affect one in 26 people during their lifetime, and Coach Kill is one of over 2.2 million people in the United States who suffer from seizures.
Before the Nebraska game, Members of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota distributed 50,000 rally towels and were available to answer questions about epilepsy. The rally towels displayed the logos for Go-pher Epilepsy Awareness, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota and the Anita Kaufmann FoundationAlso, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota’s “Winning Kid” of the year, 13-year-old Alex Fischer, was introduced on the field.
Coach Kill and Rebecca have been supportive of Epilepsy Foundation programs, specifically those that help youth with seizures. The Kills have attended Camp Oz – a summer camp for kids with seizures in Hudson, WI – and invited the Epilepsy Foundation’s Shining Stars (kids with epilepsy) to visit the football team’s spring practice.
The Kills have partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation to help raise awareness of epilepsy.
Some of the best epilepsy research in the world is being done at Minnesota, led by Dr. Bin He. Dr. He and his colleagues have made significant contributions in the field of high-resolution imaging being done to map the epileptogenic brain, and they are working to establish electrophysiological neuroimaging as a noninvasive tool aiding surgical planning in epilepsy patients. The research is being conducted in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota Medical Center.
Here’ is a university video featuring Dr. He from last year: