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After suddenly losing a child to epilepsy, a Guelph family is determined to protect others

Scott Chadwick said he will not let his daughter's death be in vain as the family launches a fund to support epilepsy research
10-year-old Kayla Chadwick passed away in her sleep after suffering a seizure. Supplied photo

The family of a Guelph child who died of an epileptic attack in her sleep is determined to help others battling the neurological disorder.

Kayla Chadwick, 10, tested negative for epilepsy but died following an attack in 2019.

Friday is Epilepsy Awareness day and her family – mother Geri McIver, father Scott Chadwick and brother Tyler Chadwick – along with the Guelph Community Foundation, will launch Make Your Mark Foundation in memory of Kayla.

Funds raised will go toward supporting local families living with epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) through education programs.

Scott Chadwick said he never wants anyone to go through a similar experience, which he feels could have had a different outcome if he had more information about SUDEP.

Kayla had her first seizure in February 2019 before she got ready for school which seemed like an isolated case. Two months later she had two seizures within two days, causing alarm to her family and leading her pediatrician to prescribe her a low dose of anti-seizure medication.

After undergoing several medical examinations, Kayla tested negative for epilepsy. Her family said she was doing very well on her medication and the seizures had stopped allowing her to continue her passion of competitive dance and acrobatics. 

Eight months later Kayla passed away after suffering a seizure in the middle of the night, leaving her family shocked.

“We never knew. We didn’t see this coming,” said Chadwick. 

“We just weren't prepared. We hope that by preparing awareness, people can be a little bit more vigilant, maybe look into things that can help them prevent this kind of thing.”

Chadwick said the family’s goal is to raise funds in her memory to support epilepsy research, particularly in the area of SUDEP so other families don’t go through a devastating experience similar to theirs.

“It was extremely difficult but we wanted to raise money for epilepsy and  SUDEP because we didn't have the information that we think might have been able to help us,” said Chadwick. 

The fund launching on March 26 will be a way to honour Kayla and her legacy. Family and friends remember Kayla as a beautiful, happy, brave girl with an infectious smile that could light up a room. A girl that was extraordinary and who stood out to everyone. 

Chadwick said he will not let Kayla’s death be in vain.

“We can help people who are struggling and trying to find information,” said Chadwick. 

"Kayla was never formally diagnosed with epilepsy because it takes time to do that,” said Chadwick. “When they couldn’t find anything, that’s when they decided it was SUDEP.”

On Friday, Market Square in Downtown Guelph will be lit in purple to honour all those lost and living with Epilepsy.

“Kayla’s story is so tragic and it's so very sad and the family has really garnered enough courage to publicly share and help raise money with some causes and areas they feel need a lot of education and support because this all happened without them really knowing what SUDEP really is,” said Jessica Barrie, community engagement manager at the GCF.

“We can help people who are struggling and trying to find the information,” said Chadwick about the fund that will forever support epilepsy in Guelph and across the province.


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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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