Billboard campaign raises awareness for SUDEP

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(ABC 6 News) – If you live and work in Rochester, chances are you’ve seen billboards about raising awareness for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, also known as SUDEP.

One local dad funded the billboards all by himself to remember his daughter.

“She was in many ways like myself, she was a mini me,” David Schlobohm, Melissa’s father said.

David’s daughter Melissa was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 18 years old. For part of her life, she was battling seizures.

She passed away when she was 37 from SUDEP.

“There was no cause for the death, it was sudden unexpected death in epilepsy,” Schlobohm said.

David misses his daughter and he holds many pictures close to his heart.

“She added a lot of life to our family, and I’m just happy for where she’s at now, I know she’s in Heaven,” Schlobohm said.

According to the CDC for every 1,000 people that have epilepsy, at least one person may die from SUDEP each year.

That means that each year in this country, there are about 3-thousand deaths due to SUDEP.

The reason why these billboards are present day and night is David’s way of saying that SUDEP has its impact, and it’s traumatic.

“She always wanted to be independent. She was independent growing up, she wanted to make her own decisions, and we could see as an adult, she wasn’t making the best life choices to not have these seizures,” Schlobohm said.

Melissa did everything she could, she chose to live her life not in fear of seizures, but to surround herself with her loved ones.

“This backyard has a very special meaning for your family – talk about that!”

“This is where Melissa and Shaun got Married, right here in our backyard. Being here, I was able to walk her across the backyard and up the aisle, it was very special,” Schlobohm said.

Those were the good times. And inside the home, there’s a poem. Part of it reads…

“The pain we feel is real, we know this is not a goodbye, but a see you later someday,” Schlobohm said.

And outside the home, there’s a wind chim. It reads “Everytime the wind blows, I think of you.”

Everyday, David is thinking about his daughter.

“That’s the way she was, she’d shake herself off, pick herself up, and keep going,” Schlobohm said.

SUDEP Action Day is on October 19, a day dedicated to raising awareness of Epilepsy deaths worldwide.

As for what the future looks like for David, he plans to keep honoring and remembering his daughter any way that he can.