Granting comfort and hope – The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation
By Lynne Marsala Basche
Knowledge is power. Three words that CHF founders Doug and Julie Hutchison want everyone touched by epilepsy to know. With a mission to raise awareness about the Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), CHF exists to grant comfort, hope and positivity to individuals and families living with epilepsy.
Chelsea Alice Hutchison was born in 1992 and began having occasional seizures when she was 11. In 2009, the vivacious 16-year old Rock Canyon High School student died unexpectedly after having a seizure in her sleep. The Hutchison’s were never aware that a seizure could take Chelsea’s life (other than through an accidental fall or drowning). Now, the Hutchison’s honor their daughter’s memory through CHF.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, SUDEP occurs in a person who was otherwise healthy, and no other cause of death is identified during an autopsy. Each year, more than one out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP. If seizures are uncontrolled, the risk of SUDEP increases to more than one out of 150.
While the cause of SUDEP is not known, there are ways to mitigate risks by controlling seizures, using monitors and becoming educated. Since 2009, CHF has been providing such relief.
Since its beginning, CHF has reached thousands of individuals nationwide, but primarily in Colorado. The foundation raises funds to provide grants for seizure-response dogs and epilepsy monitors for those in need. To date, CHF has supplied more than 92 epilepsy patients with grants toward seizure-response dogs, as well as placed more than 353 pieces of monitoring equipment in homes. While the use of dogs and monitors do not guarantee SUDEP will not occur, these preventive measures alert family members or those nearby to the onset of a seizure, so that early intervention is possible.
CHF also educates the public about SUDEP by spreading awareness and providing support to those who have been affected by the condition. The Hutchison’s believe that creating a sense of community enables individuals and families living with epilepsy to find support and learn from each other, which is as important as providing the latest monitoring technology and services.
There are several ways to help CHF, directly assisting those in need. Make a tax-deductible donation and designate a contribution toward a specific need if desired. Volunteer opportunities are also available. “Like” CHF’s Facebook page and tell friends about the foundation to get the information out to those who need it.
CHF also holds several fundraisers throughout the year. The upcoming STOMP Out Epilepsy and SUDEP 5K Family Walk/Run is a fantastic way to raise money and awareness. Learn about these opportunities, as well as more information about CHF at www.chelseahutchisonfoundation.org.
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