Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teaching Public about Epilepsy

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teaching Public about Epilepsy

Article excerpt

By her early 30's, Anita Kaufmann had achieved everything a person could want professionally: a law degree from Georgetown University and her own legal recruiting firm that was taking off.

But on vacation, she had a negative experience that changed her life. While staying at a spa, she had a seizure, and was promptly asked by the owners to leave.

The incident inspired the Teaneck native to start a foundation to educate the public about epilepsy. Kaufmann died in 2003 and left her entire estate to the foundation, the only of its kind solely dedicated to epilepsy education. It runs a free nationwide classroom program that teaches 5th graders about the disorder.

"She wanted to help others not face the discrimination she faced," said Debra Josephs, Kaufman's childhood best friend from Teaneck and executive director of the Anita Kaufmann Foundation, based in New Milford.

March 26 is Purple Day, a global effort to increase awareness about epilepsy and seizure disorders. Started in 2008 by a 9-year- old from Nova Scotia, the campaign asks people to wear the color lavender to alleviate the stigma and isolation experienced by people with epilepsy.

The Anita Kaufmann Foundation has partnered with Purple Day founders to create the Great Purple Cupcake Project. Beginning today, several North Jersey bakeries will be selling lavender-hued cupcakes, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the foundation. "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken is a strong supporter of the cause, because his niece has epilepsy.

Kaufmann, an avid horseback rider, was thrown from a horse at 14 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She remained in a coma for four days, but appeared to have fully recovered.

Not until her early 30s did she experience a condition called post-traumatic epilepsy, as a result of her childhood brain injury.

The programs in the schools have an anti-bullying message to teach children not to stigmatize people with epilepsy. …

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