Lauren Hebert, 20, is the brains and all the energy behind Epilepsy Foundation Louisiana’s annual Carpe Diem fundraiser race in Lafayette. Born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana Lauren was first diagnosed with grand mal seizures at 12 years old. When asked about her diagnosis and why she started the race her senior in high school, Lauren said:
I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 12 years old. It kept me down for a while and I felt like I was all alone. But after running numerous cancer awareness races, I realized I had never seen an epilepsy awareness race. That is when I decided I would change that.
I was a senior in high school when I planned the first race. It wasn’t easy but I loved organizing it. As the money from participants and sponsors flowed in I finally realized why I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
I no longer felt sorry for myself and instead of seeing what I couldn’t do because of epilepsy; I saw what I could do for others. I hope by doing this I can set an example for other younger children who feel like they are being held back by epilepsy.
The Carpe Diem race, started in 2012, has grown each year in attendance and in funds raised. Lauren’s race exceeded all EFL goals this year. Attendance was up 25% over last year and the fundraising goal was smashed with $11,000 raised! That is a 100% increase over last year’s race proceeds.
In 2012 Lauren’s parent’s just shook their heads when they told EFL executive director, Allison DeBattista, that they asked Lauren to wait until she graduated to do something, but the next day she had set the date, made up flyers and had posted the event on online running sites. That first year Carpe Diem hosted close to 100 participants and raised $1,545. Even though planning the race every year is stressful, Lauren says she couldn’t imagine not doing it. She loves everything about the event.
Lauren is a full-time student at University of Louisiana Lafayette majoring in Elementary Education and works at Borden’s and Ground Pati. Every Thursday Lauren volunteers by swimming with special needs children. When Lauren is not attending class, working, volunteering or organizing races, she can be found in the classroom doing observation hours toward her teaching degree. Lauren’s seizures are currently controlled with medication and she has been seizure free for four years.If Lauren’s story inspires you, you can donate to EFL in her honor.