McDonnell to Lead Wake Up Narcolepsy Outreach Efforts

Jul 23, 2012, 08:00 ET from Wake Up Narcolepsy

Raising Awareness of a Devastating but Under-diagnosed Illness

WORCESTER, Mass., July 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wake Up Narcolepsy (WUN) (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of narcolepsy and finding a cure for this debilitating, lifelong condition, today announced that Kenneth McDonnell, of Holden, MA, has joined WUN as vice president of marketing and community relations.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disease that affects some 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide. It is as common as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and Type1 diabetes. The condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, and most sufferers also experience episodes of cataplexy, brief but debilitating periods of muscle weakness or complete physical collapse.

McDonnell brings to the newly created post a broad range of experience in marketing, corporate communications and media relations. His professional background includes work in social services, technology, higher education and electric energy.

"Narcolepsy can impair so many aspects of a person's life," McDonnell said, "from family and social interactions, to self-esteem and career choice. Though treatment is available for most sufferers, up to 10 years can pass before a proper diagnosis is made, robbing the sufferer – and the family – of an acceptable quality of life.

"Many of us know someone battling the effects of narcolepsy," McDonnell added. "Shockingly, however, many physicians, teachers, parents and others who could help are not familiar with it symptoms. So delayed or inaccurate diagnosis can lead to years of unnecessary suffering. Raising public awareness and building support for finding a cure will help millions worldwide. I welcome the opportunity to further the WUN mission alongside the scientific, medical and educational communities, and to work with the dedicated, mostly volunteer WUN staff." 

Often, the onset of narcolepsy is seen in young adulthood, and even earlier, periods essential to healthy psychological and social development. For children and young adults, especially, narcolepsy and its symptoms, such as cataplexy, sleep paralysis and night terrors, can be horrifying, daily incidents, bringing on intolerable depression, sometimes leading to thoughts of suicide.  

"Ken brings to Wake Up Narcolepsy the proven ability to plan and carry out effective, sustained outreach campaigns," said Monica Gow, executive director of WUN. "As we expand our efforts to bring greater awareness to the debilitating effects of narcolepsy for its victims and their families, Ken will lead our widening communications initiatives. We are pleased to have him join our team."

About Wake Up Narcolepsy

Wake Up Narcolepsy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the awareness and research of Narcolepsy. A national organization, WUN hosts various narcolepsy awareness events, including annual golf outings, Boston Marathon running teams and the Wake Up Nashville song-writing contests. WUN's efforts are supported, in part, by the generosity of Balfour Beatty Communities, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Picerne Military Housing and St. Thomas Health. For more information about Wake Up Narcolepsy, visit

SOURCE Wake Up Narcolepsy