SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – For the fourth time in as many years, Councilman Alex Barletta accepted a proclamation at last week’s council meeting declaring “Purple Day” in the borough. The annual event is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about people with epilepsy and the debilitating seizures they suffer.
Barletta knows firsthand about epilepsy; his son Alex was diagnosed with it at five. “It’s a debilitating disease for some people, like my son,” the councilman said when accepting the proclamation.
Barletta’s son is now 27. He’s had several brain surgeries and two brain resections. In a last-ditch effort to try and stop the recurring seizures, doctors split his brain in half in 2004. But they still continue.
“People who suffer from seizures are just like everybody else,” Barletta said. “They just happen to have this condition. It can be debilitating.”
To highlight the condition, epilepsy groups hold “Purple Day” each March and encourage people to wear purple that day to increase understanding about the condition and reduce the stigmas associated with the condition. This year the event happens on March 26.
Barletta says he still remembers when his son had his first seizure while in kindergarten at then-Sacred Heart School.
Coincidentally, it was a fellow councilman CJ Diana’s father who responded to the school while on patrol for the police department. “My wife reminded me how CJ’s father responded to Alex’s first seizure,” said Barletta. Diana’s father, who was just promoted to lieutenant, was relatively new police officer at the time. “We’ve been to the hospital many, many times since then,” Barletta added.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions and affects over 50 million people around the world. In the United States alone, three million people struggle with it.