• Home
  • News and Stories
  • Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute Announces Winners for First of Four Challenges to Help Improve and Save Lives

Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute Announces Winners for First of Four Challenges to Help Improve and Save Lives

Epilepsy News From: Thursday, September 03, 2015

Three Teams Win $15,000 to Empower People with Epilepsy; Second Challenge, aimed at Preventing Epilepsy Seizures, Set to Award $30,000

LANDOVER, MD – The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute announced the winners of its first challenge, “Empowering People with Epilepsy.” This was the first of four challenges that will ultimately award more than $1 million in prizes.

Each winning solution presented creative and viral advocacy campaign ideas that inform and educate people with epilepsy, families, and the health care community. The campaign submissions were aimed at a change in behavior that leads to better seizure control, therefore reducing sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) risk. The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute will begin implementing the ideas from the winning solutions in the upcoming months.

The first prize of $10,000 was awarded to Chad Spencer of Smithfield, Utah. A $2,500 prize was awarded to a team comprised of Jenna Brooks of Alexandria, Va., and Lizzette Vidal-Alicea of Fairfax, Va. Another $2,500 prize was awarded to a team with six members: Mackenzie Beer and Steven Ebert of Richmond, Va.; Candace Faircloth of Virginia Beach, Va.; Scott Menzie of Waynesville, N.C.; Sunny Sun of Berkeley, Calif.; and Eden Mesfin of Concord, Calif.

“Death from epilepsy is very real. If seizures are uncontrolled, the risk of SUDEP is more than 1 out of 150. Reducing risk of death from seizures is a major objective of the Epilepsy Foundation and our SUDEP Institute,” said Phil Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in this challenge and are eager to integrate the winning ideas into a campaign that will save more lives.”

More than 300 people registered on the InnoCentive global marketplace. Ultimately, a total of 90 solutions were submitted from entrants in more than 50 countries. Solvers included people living with epilepsy, bereaved family members, doctors, nurses, communications experts, and many more.

"InnoCentive is proud to be the technology and service provider that is connecting the greater epilepsy community with the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute," said Craig Jones, chairman and CEO of InnoCentive. "Congratulations to our winners for bringing new ideas for enhancing the public awareness, understanding, and action of this condition."

The second challenge, which will award $30,000, focuses on developing an intervention to help people with epilepsy comply with treatment plans and decrease their risk of seizures. 

“One-third of people living with epilepsy are faced with ongoing seizures despite all currently available therapies. Individuals who have frequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures appear to be at highest risk for SUDEP,” said Cyndi Wright, director of the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute.

The second challenge began on August 14, 2015, and solutions are due by October 13, 2015. To learn more about the challenges and enter the second challenge, click here.

About Epilepsy

When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. Epilepsy affects nearly 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, four out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.


Each year, more than 1 out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP. If seizures are uncontrolled, the risk of SUDEP increases to more than 1 out of 150. Although rare in children, SUDEP is the leading cause of death in young adults with uncontrolled seizures. The causes of SUDEP are unknown, but by having as few convulsive or tonic-clonic seizures as possible, a person can reduce his or her risk of SUDEP. Learn more at epilepsy.com/sudep

About the Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with nearly 50 affiliated organizations throughout the U.S., has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and SUDEP, find a cure, and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy, and research to accelerate ideas into therapies. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit epilepsy.com.

“Like” the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook at facebook.com/epilepsyfoundationofamerica and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/epilepsyfdn.

About the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute

The SUDEP Institute is an initiative led by the Epilepsy Foundation that carries out SUDEP education and awareness programs for people affected by epilepsy and for medical professionals; drives and supports research into the causes of and ways to prevent SUDEP; offers a support network providing counseling, community, and resources for individuals and families affected by SUDEP; and works together with many epilepsy organizations to find the answers to SUDEP. For additional information, please visit epilepsy.com/sudep-institute

About InnoCentive, Inc.

InnoCentive crowdsources innovation solutions from the world’s smartest people, who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, and scientific challenges. Our global network of millions of problem solvers, proven challenge methodology, and cloud-based innovation management platform help our clients transform their economics of innovation through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. For over a decade, organizations such as Astra Zeneca, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly & Company, NASA, Procter & Gamble, Thomson Reuters, and several government agencies in the U.S. and Europe have partnered with InnoCentive. Learn more at innocentive.com.

Contact Name

Judy Gretsch | Manager of Program Communications and Social Media

Contact Phone

(301) 918-3719

Contact Email


Reviewed Date

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sign Up for Emails

Stay up to date with the latest epilepsy news, stories from the community, and more.