Danny Did Ambassadors Program
Danny Did Ambassadors are extraordinary volunteers who choose to serve the Danny Did Foundation at elevated levels of engagement and responsibility. Each Ambassador shares their personal story to further our mission to prevent deaths caused by seizures. With the support and backing of Danny Did, ambassadors work proactively as representatives of the foundation to help Danny Did integrate into networks and communities across the United States. The main goals of each Ambassador are:
- promoting Danny Did and its mission to prevent deaths caused by seizures;
- advancing awareness of epilepsy and of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP);
- fundraising for Danny Did Foundation;
- initiating contact with medical professionals, schools, corporations and advocacy organizations who are interested collaboration.
For information on this program, email Tom Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to meet our Kids’ Ambassador, Danny’s sister Mary Grace!
With gratitude we introduce our Danny Did Ambassadors:
Tanisha lost her son Marquis to epilepsy in September 2019 at the age of 26. In the time since, Tanisha has become a fierce advocate and has made numerous connections within the epilepsy community. Her commitment to instigate change spreads across public policy, fundraising, and especially the need to improve communication about the risk of mortality between health care provides and families who face seizures. A favorite saying by Marquis was, "I pulled the sun out for you, Mom." Tanisha now carries on his legacy by acting as a light for other caregivers who are in need of hope and resources.
Samantha Valchar and her husband Matt have two children, JoHannah and Lee. They advocate for their son Lee who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2017. On their farm in Texas they raise chickens and sell eggs to raise funds and awareness for the Danny Did Foundation.
Tom and Mary Nugent
Tom and Mary Nugent have three sons, Jack, Will and Quinn. The younger of their two boys have epilepsy. The Nugents represent the Danny Did Foundation at numerous conferences and meetings throughout the Chicago area and serve as mentors to many parents who care for multiple children with epilepsy. Tom Nugent is also an alumni of Team Danny Did.
Allison is the mother of two young boys and lost her husband Jeff to SUDEP on February 26, 2012. Jeff died from SUDEP after experiencing only his second known seizure, at the age of 42, and his family was never informed that seizures could be fatal. Allison now advocates in her husband’s name through fundraising events and media awareness around SUDEP. Her efforts have helped numerous families in her community.
Misty and Stephen Phillips
Misty Phillips became an epilepsy advocate after her son Lucas began having seizures on Christmas Eve 2009 at age 11. An avid runner, Misty and her husband Stephen ran the 2012 Chicago Marathon as part of Team Danny Did. The North Carolina couple are also running several local races to raise awareness and work to grow Team Danny in their home state.
Sherri & Brad Newman
Sherri and her husband Brad lost their 12 year-old son Joshua to SUDEP in November 2010. Following the suggestion of their daughters, they registered Team “Joshua’s Smile” in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 National Walk for Epilepsy. Though they had originally planned to walk as a family of five, following Joshua’s unexpected death, their team grew to 160 friends and family who raised over $18,000. As a new tradition, each November they host the Joshua A. Newman Memorial 5K Run/Walk to advance epilepsy awareness and to support the Danny Did Foundation in purchasing seizure detection devices for families unable to afford them.
Parents Casey and Tom and their four kids represent Danny Did in Long Island, NY. The family advocates in honor of their oldest child, Tommy. The Pettersens have used their creative design talents to boost Danny Did fundraising campaigns. Their passion for helping is contagious.
Maureen "Mo" Slotnick
Mo's daughter, Scarlett had her first seizure at 4 months. She was introduced to Danny Did through a friend and has since supported the cause through awareness, support and friendship. Mo is a happily married military spouse with two children who are the joys of her life, along with her husband Brian. They currently reside at Fort Riley in Kansas but are true New Jerseyans at heart. A believer in the connection of mind, body, spirit and wellness, Mo believes in awareness and education around seizures and SUDEP at any stage or season of life. She is especially interested in the long term health issues seizures may cause for an individual, and the related impact on quality of life and the greater family unit.
Scott and Lana Frey
Scott and his wife Lana have an 14-year-old daughter who faces the challenges of both Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, and a younger daughter. A dentist, Scott utilizes his professional networks to raise awareness and funds for our cause. The Freys also serve as our liaisons to the Indiana Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation.
Kari and Dennis Knapp
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Kari and her husband Dennis lost their 22-year-old son Jake to SUDEP in March 2009. They serve as our liaison to the Minnesota Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation. Each summer the Knapp family hosts a Socks & Sandals Golf Outing fund raiser, aptly named because Jake always wore socks with his sandals. Portions of the proceeds are used to purchase seizure detection devices for families who cannot afford them.
Stefanie and Marc Mingle
Stefanie and Marc lost their daughter Emmy to SUDEP in July 2013, a few months before her second birthday. These brave parents now advocate for epilepsy and SUDEP awareness in Emmy’s honor, and work to advance understanding of seizures in their South Florida community.
Cindy Mitchell & Family
Cindy and her husband Tom have a son Robert who has epilepsy. Their Seizure Response/Assistance Dog is a big part of the family, his name is Boomer. The Mitchells have represented Danny Did at several epilepsy conferences, meetings and expos in California, and serve as our liaisons to the Los Angeles Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation.
Kendal and Andrew O’Lenick
Kendal and her husband Andrew have two sons, Conner and his younger brother Asher, who have epilepsy. Their Vizsla dog Abby helps to monitor their seizure activity. A personal trainer, Kendal is helping to bring participation and fundraising for Team Danny Did to the Atlanta area. She herself began having seizures in late 2014. Says Kendal, “As a mom, not a day goes by that I don’t worry about SUDEP. I want other parents to have an outlet and know that we are not alone with our battle against epilepsy!” They have shared their story with more than 1,000 college students as part of the Northwestern University Dance Marathon (www.nudm.org).
In 2012, Rachael Reyna lost her daughter Ava, who died as a result of her epilepsy, and her husband Carlos, to cancer. In their loving memory, Rachael has hosted the “FOREver Loved” Golf Outing each August. The day begins with a cookout lunch, followed by 18 holes of golf, culminating with dinner and awards. Proceeds benefit the Danny Did Foundation and the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network. Befitting her new role as a powerhouse advocate. In just two years, she raised more than $45,000 for Danny Did.
Julie and John Bezold
Julie and John Bezold are parent advocates who represent Danny Did in Tennessee. Their son Nick is a talented 20 year-old who loves soccer. Nick also has epilepsy. For many years, the Bezolds have hosted The Purple Way 5K run in their hometown of Jackson, TN. The work they do to bring together their community over epilepsy awareness is inspiring.
Amber had seizures as a child and epilepsy runs deep in her family. Her daughter Rachel, 18, has faced seizures since age 4. Amber lost her son Nathan at age 13 to SUDEP on December 26, 2012. Since losing Nathan, Amber has made it a personal mission to let as many people know about epilepsy and SUDEP as she can. As a DDF Ambassador, she hosts awareness and fundraisers events, which inspire and mobilize her networks in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Kaleena and her family are annual volunteers for Danny Did at the Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland event. In addition, the oldest of her girls - Cassidy - is an advocate for other teens who face epilepsy. This family of women is a force for good.
Las Vegas, Nevada
In 2011, Sasha was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 17, one year after suffering a head injury. From that point on, she made it her mission to spread awareness of epilepsy in everything she does. Self professed as having no fear, she races BMX bikes and is a member of the Athletes vs. Epilepsy program of the Epilepsy Foundation of America. In 2016, Sasha race in the BMX Nationals event for Team Danny Did to represent herself, Danny Stanton and all those with epilepsy. Sasha now advocates in her role as a nurse.
Sylvia Palm is a trained Systems Engineering aerospace professional and was enjoying a successful career when her life changed dramatically. Violent seizures placed her into a coma in 2013, instigating a battle with epilepsy that was completely foreign to her. She has worked at leading aerospace companies including General Electric Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems, and has taught part-time at the University of Maryland, University College and Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business. In semi-retirement she continues her academic relationship at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she engages her students to learn more about epilepsy and seizures.