Chris’s Story

By: Jeanne Donalty

Our son, Chris, was a senior in college, ten weeks’ shy of graduation. He was on the Dean’s List. His passion was baseball. Always there for his friends and family, Chris was generous and thoughtful.

But beneath his upbeat demeanor, Chris struggled each and every day of his life with the impacts of epilepsy. He hated the mind-numbing medications and their side-effects. He suffered short-term memory loss and was always tired. And then there was the constant unpredictability—when and where would the next seizure happen? Would we ever be able to bring them under control?

We thought we’d seen the very worst of epilepsy, until the day we got the call that Chris had died of an epileptic seizure at the age of 21. We had no idea that he was at risk of losing his life to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)—that epilepsy kills tens of thousands of Americans a year.

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disease, yet it receives far fewer research dollars and far less attention than other conditions affecting the brain. And our story is testimony to the fact that epilepsy is not something we can continue to neglect.

In Chris’s memory, and for the 3.4 million Americans affected, please give as generously as you can. With more research towards a cure, we can spare other families the heartache and loss we live with every day.