Get Involved - Family Ambassadors
Danny Did Family Ambassadors are extraordinary volunteers who share their personal story to support others in the epilepsy community. Each Ambassador is dedicated to advancing epilepsy awareness and furthering the DDF mission to prevent deaths caused by seizures. With the 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 the resources of Danny Did to those in need;
⦁ advancing awareness of epilepsy and of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP);
⦁ initiating contact with medical professionals, schools, businesses and advocacy organizations who are interested in collaboration;
⦁ fundraising for Danny Did Foundation.
For information on this program, email us at email@example.com.
With gratitude we introduce our Danny Did Ambassadors:
Valchar Family Thorndale, Texas
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.
Tanisha Graves Virginia
Tanisha lost her son Marquis to epilepsy in September 2019 at the age of 26. Since then, 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 providers 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.
Tom and Mary Nugent Wheaton, Illinois
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 and are Jack are also alums of Team Danny Did.
Allison Austin Northern Virginia
Allison is the mother of two 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. 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.
Sherri & Brad Newman Washington, D.C.
Sherri and 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, but following Joshua’s unexpected death, their team grew to 160 friends and family who raised over $18,000. For many years in the Fall, they hosted the Joshua A. Newman Memorial 5K Walk to advance epilepsy awareness and to support the Danny Did Foundation in purchasing seizure detection devices for families unable to afford them.
Pettersen Family Amityville, NY
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 and artwork talents to boost Danny Did fundraising campaigns. Their passion for helping is contagious.
Maureen "Mo" Slotnick Massachusetts
Mo’s daughter Scarlett had her first seizure at 4 months. She supports the DDF cause through awareness, support and infectious energy. Mo is a happily married military spouse with two children who are the joys of her life, along with her husband Brian. 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 Indiana
Scott and his wife Lana have two daughters, one of whom faces the challenges of both Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. 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. For many summers the Knapp family hosts a Socks & Sandals Golf Outing fundraiser, named because Jake always wore socks with his sandals. Portions of the proceeds funded seizure detection devices for families who cannot afford them.
Stefanie and Marc Mingle South Florida
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 Southern California
Cindy and her husband Tom have a son Robert who has epilepsy. 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.
Rachael Reyna Lemont, Illinois
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 hosted the “FOREver Loved” Golf Outing each August. Proceeds benefited the Danny Did Foundation and the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network. Befitting her role as a powerhouse advocate. In just two years, the event raised more than $45,000 for Danny Did.
Julie and John Bezold Jackson, Tennessee
Julie and John Bezold are parent advocates who represent Danny Did in Tennessee. Their adult son Nick is a talented soccer player. Nick also has epilepsy. For many years, the Bezolds hosted The Purple Way 5K run in their hometown of Jackson, TN, bringing their community for epilepsy awareness.
Kaleena Fitzsimmons Chino, California
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.
Sasha Pina 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, she made it her mission to spread awareness of epilepsy in everything she does. Self-professed as having no fear, she has raced BMX bikes and was 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 Maryland
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.
Moira “Mo” Sharkey Massachusetts
Mo is a mother, athlete and advocate who helps others in honor of her brother Danny, who passed away from SUDEP in 2017. She has run and fundraised in the Chicago Marathon multiple times.
Allison Hurt Nebraska
Allison is the mother of twins Haden & Erin. She lost Erin to SUDEP in April 2019, just one month after her epilepsy diagnosis. She was not told about SUDEP prior to losing Erin and is working to spread awareness. Allison is a board member of the Epilepsy Foundation Nebraska and started Erin’s Embrace Program to try and get seizure monitors onto the wrist of every Nebraskan that can benefit from it.
Ashleigh Henrichs kenosha, WI
Ashleigh has 3 children: Caroline, Mary and Henry. Caroline, who recently graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, has battled epilepsy and intractable seizures for 12 years. Her bravery and strength motivate Ashleigh to advocate for epilepsy awareness, the need for new, cutting-edge research and for the voices of patients, their caregivers and those who have lost a loved one, to be heard loud and clear. Ashleigh has raised funds for DDF through two recent Chicago Marathons and looks forward to continuing to support DDF and the families it serves.
As part of our Student Ambassador program, Danny Did Foundation encourages the next generation of young leaders to contribute to epilepsy awareness and education. Our program teaches students to look beyond themselves and the importance of giving back. They will also acquire skills to support causes that are meaningful to them as they mature into adulthood.
Danny’s legacy inspires people to act out of compassion and encourages a genuine desire to give. We ask students to bring our mission into their High School activities. They have the freedom to choose the format to raise awareness. We have the most success when students choose something they enjoy and incorporate Danny Did into that hobby or passion. Students have hosted hockey skate a thons, baseball awareness games, penny wars, selected epilepsy as speech topics, awareness concerts, and more. We also ask students to volunteer their time at Danny Did events, helping at the office, and supporting our marathon runners.