Remarkable Women of Denver: Finalist Julie Hutchison turns hurt into hope for people with epilepsy

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DENVER -- FOX31 and Colorado’s Own Channel 2 are proud to be profiling the four finalists in our Remarkable Women of Denver series. After hundreds of nominations, four women were chosen as finalists. We are happy to share their stories.

Finalist Julie Hutchison lost the most precious thing in her life. For the past 11 years, she has turned hurt into hope for thousands of others.

Julie’s daughter Chelsea was a vibrant 16-year-old high school student. She was epileptic but that was a small factor in her life. No one ever told her family that it could take her life.

Hutchison was told that her seizures were not deadly and they had nothing to worry about. In 2009, Chelsea died in her sleep. Her family was left in shock, grieving for the young woman described as the light that walked into in every room.

Hutchison would come to learn that one in 26 Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy and almost 500 new cases are diagnosed every day.

The term "SUDEP" (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) was introduced to the family.

Chelsea had far fewer seizures than many epilepsy patients, only four to five a year. The Hutchisons strongly believe that an epilepsy monitor could have saved her life.

“If somebody had told us about it, we feel strongly that if she had been monitored at night, that we might've been able to save her," Hutchison said.

Monitors are not routinely recommended by doctors and not paid for by insurance. Hutchison made it her mission to educate people on SUDEP and to raise money to help other families. She started by raising money for seizure response dogs and then monitoring devices.

The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation has now provided 900 monitors to families across the world and 128 grants have been given for seizure response dogs. The dogs are trained for the specific needs of the handler. They can push a button, bring medication or brace a fall.

In addition, through the foundation, families have a community where they share information and find support. Hutchison helps coordinate walks across the country, bingo night twice a week and a yearly gala.

FOX31 and Channel 2 would like to congratulate Julie Hutchison as a finalist for Denver’s Remarkable Woman.

Learn more about the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation on its website.

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