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John and Samantha Willis. Samantha is holding a "comfort cub."

The Willis' are on a mission to raise awareness and support for other families who have experienced child loss in our community and help support organizations that provide assistance to these families. Since fall of 2020, they have been able to raise $1000 from t-shirt sales in Lucy's honor. These profits were donated to "The Comfort Cub," which provides therapeutic weighted teddy bears to loss families and others experiencing a broken heart as a result of a significant loss or trauma, free of charge.
If you would like to help raise awareness and support for the Willis' and families of SUDC, you may purchase a t-shirt at bonfire.com/store/lucy-sunshine/.


Local Family Raising Awareness Donates to CPMC

Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) is a category of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy. Most often, a seemingly healthy child goes to sleep and never wakes up. It is not known what causes SUDC, how to predict it or how to prevent it. A medical examiner or coroner could rule a child's death SUDC when a thorough evaluation is completed and finds no other cause of death.

SUDC is believed to be rare, occurring in about one in every 100,000 children. Every year in the United States, approximately 400 children are lost to SUDC. It is most common in young children and is the fifth leading category of death among children between the ages of 1 and 4.

John and Samantha Willis, and their son Eli understand all too well the pain and heartache SUDC can cause a healthy and loving family. On May 29, 2020, their 14-month-old daughter, Lucy, was found unresponsive after her afternoon nap. Samantha, RN at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, explains "When a seemingly perfect child like Lucy falls asleep and never wakes up, with no apparent cause after an autopsy and medical investigation, they call it Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. It's a term that in my nine years of nursing I had never even heard of until it happened to my child. Everyone knows about SIDS, but why would a healthy older child from 1-18 years old die in their sleep? That doesn't happen! Until it does. Until it happens to 400 children a year. Until it happens to my child."

The Willis' are on a mission to raise awareness and support for other families who have experienced child loss in our community and help support organizations that provide assistance to these families. Since fall of 2020, they have been able to raise $1000 from t-shirt sales in Lucy's honor. These profits were donated to "The Comfort Cub," which provides therapeutic weighted teddy bears to loss families and others experiencing a broken heart as a result of a significant loss or trauma, free of charge. Weighted items such as the Comfort Cubs have been found to provide relief from Takotsubo Syndrome, also known as Broken Heart Syndrome, through deep touch pressure. This stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters that cause the body to relax and feel comforted.

With the purchase of 5 cases of bears, John and Sam feel the first case should go to CPMC-where Lucy was born and was taken after her passing. They donated The Comfort Cubs to the facility on what would have been Lucy's 2nd birthday, and the final day of SUDC Awareness Month. "March is not only the month that the most radiant little soul was born, but it's also SUDC Awareness Month. I used to be one of those people who thought, 'gosh, there is an awareness month for everything these days,' but now that I'm actually affected by something, I am so thankful that it exists. When Lucy's death was 'undetermined' I felt like we didn't belong anywhere. We don't belong with the SIDS families, we don't belong with the cancer families, we just plain don't belong. We're just hanging out in limbo with our kid who has no reason to be dead. Learning about SUDC gave us a place to belong. It gave us a community of broken families who understand what it's like to have no answers. And since it's something that we have to live with, I am so happy that SUDC Awareness Month coincides with Lucy's birth month, and that's why I will now always love the month of March."

If you would like to help raise awareness and support for the Willis' and families of SUDC, you may purchase a t-shirt at bonfire.com/store/lucy-sunshine/.

If you'd like to learn more about SUDC, please visit www.sudc.org . To learn about The Comfort Cub, you can visit www.thecomfortcub.org .