Eric Miller of Pennington, New Jersey is on a mission to spread awareness of what is known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) through music.
On a Thursday night in July, about 30 music fans filled Miller’s living room to enjoy the music of performer Dan Reed and to raise funds for Epilepsy Charities.
Miller’s wife, Carolina Barcelos Carneiro de Oliveira Miller, passed away last August of SUDEP. She was 25.
“Instead of just making a donation, I wanted to be in motion,” said Miller of the Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy Awareness, “to tell the story and kind of warn people about SUDEP because I didn’t know, tragically, that epilepsy could be fatal.”
The concerts are held in Miller’s living room, where Carolina’s picture sits on a mantle surrounded by purple candles, the color for epilepsy awareness. Friend and supporter Craig Smith said that he prefers the intimacy of a house concert to shows at bars and clubs. He is also proud that Miller is making a difference.
“He’s helping more and more people everyday,” Smith said.
The Deputy Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, Liza Gundele, praised Miller’s efforts.
“Eric is doing an amazing thing playing an inspirational role in raising awareness with music.”
Carolina was a big fan of Dan Reed’s. Miller recalls one show in New York City where Reed played one of Carolina’s favorite songs, Candlelight, for which the concert series is named, solo on piano. He vividly remembers the connection he felt with her. “There tends to be a moment, and I don’t think it’s just me, where her presence is kind of in the room. Tonight I’m pretty sure that’s going to candlelight.”
Besides those who attended in person, the concert also raised money from 86 viewers who donated to watch a live stream of the show using Stageit.com. Miller wants people to know that epilepsy does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone and in most cases the cause is unknown. “Epilepsy still has stigma. It can be a shocking thing to see somebody have a seizure but the fact is one in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime.”
The Epilepsy Foundation reports that epilepsy and seizures affect nearly 3 million Americans. You can find more information on the Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy on the group’s website.