The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

When my children were younger, several moms and I put together a Children’s Rosary Group that met on a weekly basis for prayer and socialization. This group of children and parents formed strong friendships that are still in place to this day.

Some members of our Rosary group

One of the children in the group, Dennis, had epilepsy most of his life. During high school, Dennis formed a teenage group to run in the annual Emerald Miles 5K Run/Walk in support of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

On February 24, 2004, 15-year-old Dennis was typing a homework assignment on his home computer on the meaning of friendship when he suffered his last seizure. Dennis passed away from what is called SUDEP, or Sudden Unexplained Death due to Epilepsy—a very rare occurrence that happens in approximately 1 in 1000 people with epilepsy.

Dennis’s life was truly inspirational for me and the entire community. His untimely death and his final words made me all the more mindful that I never want to take my friends or family for granted. For in that homework assignment, Dennis left these final words on his computer: 

“Life is a beautiful, precious gift given by God that should not be abandoned.  You should respect it because you only live it one time around.  We should spend our quality time wisely because every second of our life is a gift and anybody could go at any time.  Life is a virtue which too many people take for granted.” 

Dennis was unable to run the Emerald Miles race that year. But since he was a strong contributor to the Epilepsy Foundation, they have dedicated the Emerald Miles 5K Walk/Run in Dennis’s memory ever since. 

If you’d like to learn more about Dennis or the Epilepsy Foundation, please click here.


About the Author

Sharon Lape is an editorial assistant in the periodicals department at Franciscan Media. She also researches and provides content for the popular Minute Meditations feature. Sharon is a wife and a mother of four children.
  • Monnaleeyounger

    Even at the funeral Mass at St. Dominic church, Dennis was called a Saint by our Pastor, Fr. Jim! May Dennis rest in peace and his sisters and parents be blessed by having Dennis in their family. mom.

  • Leah

    Very good blog, Sharon.  Dennis must have been a joy to be with and I’m sure he is sorely missed.  

  • Jpinotti

    Wonderful words of wisdom and inspiration. I’m sure Debbie is touched and very proud of the message her son still continues to spread.(