Loving Dad To Conquer 30 Triathlons In 30 days!
WORDS: Shannon Bullen PHOTOGRAPHY
Rafa Garcia is a loving father who is fighting for his 3-year-old daughter who lives with a catastrophic form of epilepsy.
Last year Rafa achieved his goal of 31 half marathons in 31 days, spurred on by his little girl Sofi. Now the doting dad will push himself to the limit by taking on 30 sprint triathlons in 30 days. Rafa says “I have never done a triathlon before, so it is going to be a challenge”. Rafa is undertaking this extreme challenge for
Walk for Epilepsy. This is his second time participating in the event, raising funds for Epilepsy Queensland, in support of his daughter who lives with epilepsy.
Sofi now aged 3, had her first seizure at 8 months old while napping in her mother Melissa’s arms. The paramedics couldn’t stop the seizure and Sofi was rushed to hospital, where it took a team of doctors over an hour to gain control. “It was the most terrifying hour of my life,” says Rafa.
Sofi continued to have prolonged seizures causing doctors to send her blood to the USA for testing. Rafa shares, “We were in the Intensive Care Unit, after a traumatic 1 hour and 20-minute seizure. Sofi had been intubated and was on life support when we received the devastating diagnosis that she had a rare and
catastrophic type of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.”
“Since Sofi’s first seizure, we’ve had to call the ambulance more than 150 times, we’ve been to the emergency department 100 times, and intensive care twice,” explains the devoted father.
The first report on Epilepsy in Australia by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), released in March, revealed in 12 months there were more than 20,600 emergency department presentations associated with epilepsy and around 31,400 hospitalisations.
“Our lives are so different from what we imagined when we brought our beautiful girl into the world,” says Rafa. “We always carry emergency medication, we avoid situations where Sofi may be exposed to heat, bright lights, over stimulation, germs, or sugar as all of these can trigger a seizure. We often cancel or change plans, and my wife and I take turns in co-sleeping with her each night. If she has a seizure, we leap into action.”
Sofi is one of more than 250,000 Australians living with epilepsy. The Walk for Epilepsy is a national virtual event, raising funds and awareness for the 1 in 25 Australians that will be diagnosed with the condition.
Epilepsy Queensland CEO, Chris Dougherty says, “we provide families like the Garcia’s, with information, education, and comprehensive support to help reduce the daily impact of this chronic condition. We do this so people with epilepsy and their families can get the most out of life.”
The Walk for Epilepsy runs from 1- 25 October 2022, to join simply sign up to walk, run or swim any distance, from anywhere in Australia. https://www.walkforepilepsy.org.au/
Rafa Garcia is hoping to raise $10 000 for Epilepsy Queensland by completing 30 sprint triathlons – that means a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run every morning in October, all before going to work!
As if that was not enough of a challenge, Rafa says “if I achieve my goal of $10 000 before 29 October, I will complete a full ironman on day 30!”
Rafa will complete the daily sprint triathlons at EMF Performance Centre on the Gold Coast, cheered on by his wife and daughter Sofi. Show your support by donating at https://www.walkforepilepsy.org.au/fundraisers/rafagarcia/qld
ABOUT EPILEPSY QUEENSLAND
For over 50 years, Epilepsy Queensland has been delivering help and hope to people impacted by epilepsy.
We support individuals to live well by providing education and support for people living with epilepsy, their family, and carers.
We create a Queensland that is aware of epilepsy and its impacts on daily life, a Queensland that is seizure smart, who can recognise the signs of a seizure and who respond to seizures with appropriate first aid.
ABOUT SEIZURES & EPILEPSY
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, with around 65 million people globally living with the condition. Alarmingly, neurological disorders are the world’s leading cause of disability and the world’s second leading cause of death.
Epilepsy is a medical condition that affects the brain and causes seizures.
Every 33 minutes and Australian is diagnosed with epilepsy.
1 in 20 or 5% of Aussie kids will have a seizure before the age of 15
A quarter of a million Australians live with epilepsy and 30% of them are unable to control seizures with medication.
50% of people that have one seizure will go on to have more seizures in their lifetime
Seizures occur due to a change in electrical activity in the brain
Signs of a seizure vary depending on where in the brain the electrical activity occurs.
Signs of a seizure can include a blank stare, unusual movements, muscle spasms or convulsions.
280 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy each week. An epilepsy diagnosis is made when a person has unprovoked and recurring seizures.
1 in every 200 Australian school children will be diagnosed with epilepsy
There are more than 70 different types of seizures and 40 epilepsy syndromes
Most seizures will last between a few seconds to a few minutes
A seizure that lasts over 5 minutes is a medical emergency. Call 000
Call 000 if a person’s breathing is affected post seizure, if they are pregnant, the seizure has occurred in water, if it is the person’s first seizure or they have more than one seizure, known as a ‘cluster’.