Shorts bring awareness of meningitis to campus

Jason Cuevas, Clarion Staff Writer

University of Wisconsin student Eddy Bailey was a strong 6’4” and 240 pounds 20-year-old young man. On Nov. 11, 2002 he complained about having a fever, took some NyQuil, and went to bed. At 8:02 a.m. the next morning he had died from meningococcemia type C, a deadly form of meningitis.

Gail Bailey, Business Management instructor at the Watertown campus and Eddy’s mother, has helped organize an event to remember Eddy, raise money for the Meningitis Foundation of America, and spread awareness of this deadly disease.

On Nov. 9 there will be a Shorts in November event at all Madison College campuses. Paper shorts will be on sale for one dollar. Students may also buy hotdogs and chips as well.

“Eddy wore shorts his whole life. He wouldn’t wear pants, just wouldn’t. 30 below, he’d wear shorts,” Gail Bailey said.

The shorts idea has since become a unique way for Eddy’s friends and family to remember him.

Gail Bailey is hoping that more students will become aware of the risk and be able to prevent themselves from suffering the same fate as Eddy.

“It’s one of the most horrible diseases. The aftermath has been horrible, never got to say goodbye,” she said.

Gail Bailey discussed how she had a very hard time after the death of her son with not even knowing how to get out of bed. Her work on meningitis has helped her coping with her son’s death. She now says that she will never stop fighting to help people know the risks of and what they can do to prevent meningitis.

“In the big picture, I have to trust there is a reason. God knows the reason. Knowing Eddy, he’d want me to do it,” Gail Bailey said.

The Truax campus currently houses a display with photos of Eddy and a poem from one of Eddy’s close friends. Students can also find information on meningitis in the display.

Gail Bailey expressed that awareness is very important because many people out there have no idea that the disease even exists and that it took Eddy’s life in only sixteen hours. Those that do survive often lose a limb.

Ten to 20 percent of the population carry the bacteria that causes meningitis in the back of their throat. Currently, scientists do not know why some people are affected and others are not. It can stay alive outside the body for up to three minutes.

Meningitis is spread by things such as sharing drinks or lip balm. People that are tired or run down in general are more susceptible. Due to the packed schedules and little rest time that college students have, they are the second most at risk group after babies.

The effects can be very similar to the flu at first. If you experienced a stiff neck or a purple rash then you should seek medical help immediately. Urgency is of the upmost importance because meningitis spreads through your blood and can easily kill a person in less than a day.

There is a vaccine for meningitis, but it is not currently on the mandatory vaccination list. The government has determined that not enough people die from meningitis to make it cost efficient for everyone to receive the vaccine. Most insurance companies do cover it, and there are many county resources that can help you receive a vaccination for as little as $10.

Gail Bailey feels that getting vaccinated is crucial. She also feels the current anti vaccine movement has done a disservice and that all credible evidence shows you should get vaccinated.

“People don’t realize it can kill you,” she said.

All students are welcome to participate in the Shorts in November event.

“Everyone wears shorts. I do too,” Gail Bailey said. “I rarely wear shorts, but I wear them for Eddy.”