NEW HAVEN — For most children, typical summer activities include playing outside and trips to the town pool. But for two New Haven girls, summer vacation includes organizing a community fundraiser.
Sisters Emily and Kayley Tardie, age 11 and 7, respectively, have been hard at work planning a fundraiser scheduled to be held in the New Haven Town Hall on Aug. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. The event, called “Just Dance,” will feature a night of dancing, food and prizes for the whole family. All proceeds will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont.
The idea for “Just Dance” was created in the back seat of the family car. Darcy Tardie, Emily and Kayley’s mom, was driving the girls back from a trip to their grandmother’s house a couple weeks ago when the youngsters started discussing an idea for an event that would support epilepsy research. The girls, who often attend the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball games in Burlington, were inspired to create an event similar to the team’s 50/50 raffle, which supports the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont.
Tardie said she was extremely moved by her daughters’ motivation and she thought this was a good opportunity for them to show their support.
“It was heartwarming to hear them come up with ideas,” said Tardie. “They inspire me because they’re so young, yet they’re doing so much.”
The Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont is a cause that is very close to the entire Tardie family’s heart. Since the age of three, Kayley has suffered from multiple varieties of seizures, which began in February 2008. What first started as “tonic-clonic” seizures developed into “absence” seizures, “tonic” seizures and “myoclonic astatic” over the next few weeks. Tardie said there was a point when Kayley has having more than 30 seizures in one day.
As Kayley has grown, her seizures have become more manageable thanks to finding the right variants of medications. Tardie said that through her experiences, she has found that it is important to be educated about epilepsy.
“At first I had very little understanding,” she said. “I relied and thrived on information. The Epilepsy Foundation provides education because who’s to say someone might not have a random seizure, and you have to know how to deal with it.”
Tardie was supportive of her daughters’ idea and said she would love to help them but that in order to make the event happen, they would have to do a lot of the work.
Originally, Emily and Kayley had wanted to perform a dance recital where people could donate money toward the foundation. The sisters have taken up an interest in performing through their hip-hop dance class. They have since decided that it would be more fun to include everyone in the action. The event will include two hours of music provided by a DJ, as well as a bake sale and a raffle.
To begin to organize the event, the Tardie family first went to the selectboard in their hometown of New Haven to book the town hall for the evening of the 25th. The selectboard waved the fee for the event to help out their cause. The next step was generating enough donations for the DJ and the raffle prizes. Tardie said they have encountered some challenges with this aspect of the planning, and they are currently in need of more donations.
“It’s a hard battle we’re facing. Many are hesitant to donate because the event is brand new,” she said.
Despite this, Tardie and her daughters stay motivated to make the event a success. Tardie said she has been very proud of her daughters’ determination. At many of the businesses and organizations, Emily was the one to ask for the manager and talk to them about the cause.
Tardie believes that while this is an important event for her family, it is also valuable to the whole community. While Kayley’s medical condition may be uncommon, Tardie said that epilepsy affects more people than some might think. Epilepsy is defined by two or more seizures in a lifetime, and currently 1 in 28 people fall under this definition.
“Just because we live in a small state doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect many people here,” Tardie said. “It’s much more prevalent then you may think.”
For more information about “Just Dance” and the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont contact Darcy Tardie at 802-249-2760.