MINNEAPOLIS – Gophers head football coach Jerry Kill announced today he's starting a new foundation for young epilepsy patients, partnering with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota to better educate schools on how to properly deal with the disease.
Kill made the announcement on "Rise Above Seizures" Day to bring epilepsy awareness for the 60,000 Minnesotans who, like him, struggle with seizures.
Kill addressed a crowded room at Kieran's Pub dressed in a Twins jersey before he was set to throw out the first pitch at the Twins Red Sox game at Target Field.
He shared his reluctance to discuss his struggles as he was publicly battling game day seizures.
"I didn't want to talk about it to be honest with you. A lot of people don't want to talk about it because they feel like it can affect their job and so forth," said Kill. "But they saved my life and now it's time for me to help others and step up to the plate in our great state."
So with his wife Rebecca, he's launched the "Chasing Dreams with Coach Kill" fund, putting $100,000 of their own money to start the foundation. It will provide training for Minnesota students, teachers, school nurses and staff to learn more about seizures. Funds will also go to Camp Oz, a one week residential camp for kids with epilepsy.
"I am a guy that has very high goal and as soon as we get done here, we are going to be moving," said Kill who wants to immediately raise $500,000.
The mission is a win for young athletes like Alec Kelsey.
"When I play, I have seizures during it, but it never stops me from playing that sport. During his games he has seizures exactly like me, so this is quite a day for me," said Kelsey.
Kelsey had a chance to meet Kill, who is one of his role models, and called Kill a man of his word.
"He's got quite a handshake, so trust me," said Kelsey.
Kill had five public seizures since he joined the Gophers in 2010.
"You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, you have to celebrate today," said Kill. "Life is about helping people. That's why I coach.",