By Mikayla van Loon
Junior football teams from Mount Evelyn and Wandin will help raise awareness and funds for epilepsy in their Epilepsy Round this Sunday 23 May.
In memory of Jai Reed, who died from complications of epilepsy in 2018, the two teams have made an annual event to continue raising awareness around the condition.
Former Mount Evelyn club president Anthony Burns said in June 2019 the two teams came together to honour the former Mount Evelyn under 16s player in what was the first annual game.
“[Jai’s death] of course really affected our club and all the youngsters,” Mr Burns said.
“From that point on we decided to dedicate a round to him and epilepsy.”
This year the two teams will face each other at Wandin’s homeground, where the under 17s will play for the Jai Reed Cup and the best on ground will receive the Jai Reed Medal.
“[It’s about] bringing two clubs together, two rival clubs together because we’re so close together in proximity, Wandin and Mount Evelyn, there’s a bit of healthy rivalry there,” Mr Burns said.
“And just to have one day for all of us to get together and just have one aim, it’s not about winning football as much, it’s just all about getting together, sharing the awareness and remembering Jai.”
Mr Burns said money will be raised all throughout the day.
An optional gold coin donation can be made upon entry into the games, raffles will be done and merchandise will be on sale from the Epilepsy Foundation.
All proceeds from the day will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation.
In 2019 crowds of over 500 people turned up to help support the family of Jai Reed and the club, raising over $3000 for epilepsy.
“We don’t have an aim as such or a target because it’s going to be a little bit less because we don’t have that [five dollar gate entry] to donate to the foundation,” Mr Burns said.
“So we’re trying to do it in all different ways, especially awareness as well to get as many people down there, families, the whole footy club community get down there and wear purple and be aware of epilepsy and whatever money we raise is a bonus as well.”
In what will be a poetic moment on Sunday, with Jai Reed’s dad coaching the under 17s team and his brother playing in the game, it will also be an emotional day of remembrance.
And for Mr Burns who has helped organise both events over the last three years, it will be even more special for him.
“My daughter since then has been diagnosed with epilepsy as well. So it’s kind of fitting that I’m organising it all,” he said.
Wear as much or as little purple and show support for Mount Evelyn Junior Football Club as they play in memory Jai Reed.