‘Purple Day' meant to heighten epilepsy awareness

Destiny Ochoa, 17, represents 50,000 annually who die of epilepsy

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Brilliant, insightful and “a beautiful, beautiful soul” is how Joe Ochoa described his 17-year-old daughter Destiny.

But on March 2, Destiny Ochoa became one of an estimated 50,000 people who annually die of epilepsy.

Her younger brother Brian discovered her body.

Christy Volosin, their mother, said, “He knocked on my door that morning and said, ‘Mom, come look at Destiny.”

Volosin said her son had been diagnosed the year before his sister with the same disease, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

“Both of them had seizures that are triggered by being deeply asleep and then waking up suddenly and being exposed to light,” Volosin said.

She said thanks to medication, her son’s seizures are under control, but waking up Destiny for school had become an ordeal, so much so that her teacher was coming to their home.

Despite their grief, Destiny’s parents say they’re speaking out in support of Saturday’s “Purple Day” to help further awareness and acceptance of a disease that many in the public don’t understand.

“There’s resources out there. There’s people that accept you. You’re not by yourself,” Ochoa said.

WATCH: What to do if someone is having an epileptic seizure

He said neither he nor Destiny’s mother were aware of the programs and support offered by the local Epilepsy Foundation, but now are grateful for the difference it made in their lives.

He said their daughter had been self-conscious and hindered by the unfair stigma many associate with epilepsy.  

Destiny’s parents said they finally saw the light that had been missing in her eyes after she went to the foundation’s summer camp, Camp Brainstorm.

Ochoa said, “She had met a lot of people. She had done things, and she told me, ‘Dad, I didn’t know I could do that!’”

He said Destiny developed a creative outlet as an artist, writer and singer.

Her parents said a collage she did was featured in the latest issue of “Seizures: European Journal of Epilepsy,” published by the largest epilepsy organization in the United Kingdom.

Volosin said she is certain her daughter would have wanted to make others with epilepsy know, “What resources are available for them to help them through this,” she said.

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