March 26 is Epilepsy Awareness Day. According to Epilepsy Canada, it’s a chance to raise awareness, challenge myths, and dismantle the stigmas around epilepsy, a condition that affects over a quarter of a million people in Canada. For this Epilepsy Awareness Day, the Guelph Community Foundation is launching a new fund in honour of a 10-year-old Guelph girl who died of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).
The new campaign called Make Your Mark Foundation in Memory of Kayla Chadwick will raise funds to support local families affected by epilepsy, and SUDEP. Epilepsy is a condition were abnormal brain activity caused by unusual development, inflammation, or physical injury results in seizures. The causes for epilepsy are numerous, and according to Epilepsy Canada the cause of the condition is unknown in as many as 50 per cent of all patients.
Kayla’s a good example because was never formally diagnosed with epilepsy, but in December 2019 she had a seizure in the middle of the night and passed away in her sleep. This is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, or SUDEP, which has become more significant area of epilepsy research. According to the Centers for Disease Control, SUDEP occurs in people who have not suffered any of the known causes of epilepsy, and the risk factors are even more unknown. Children with early-onset epilepsy are among the most at risk for SUDEP.
The fund was created by Kayla’s parents Geri McIver and Scott Chadwick, as well as Kayla’s brother Tyler. They recall Kayla as a “beautiful and happy young girl, whose infectious smile could light up any room and bring joy to those around her.” They’re hope is that by sharing Kayla’s story they can raise the profile of both epilepsy and SUDEP. You can now contribute to Make Your Mark Foundation on its Canada Helps page, and all proceeds are going to supporting the cause. They’re goal is to raise $15,000.
Market Square will also be lit purple in honour of Epilepsy Awareness Day on Friday evening.