AMES, Iowa – Commencement for Iowa State University is happening this weekend on May 8. While many families will be celebrating their graduates, one Iowa mom will be remembering her son while raising awareness about the neurological disorder that took his life.
Brendan Numedahl was 19-years-old and a student at Iowa State University when his life was tragically cut short. He died from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, also known as SUDEP, back in 2017.
Since then, his mom Jennifer Sime has become a huge advocate for epilepsy research, awareness, and fundraising.
“I think when you lose a child, you got their love in your heart and it just inspires you to want to help others,” Jennifer said. “And so that’s kind of my driving force throughout all of this.”
Brendan was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10, but was able to get the seizures under control with medication and visits with a neurologist. He graduated from Decorah High School in 2017 and went on to study at Iowa State University that fall.
“You could ask anybody who knew Brendan if you looked at him, there was nothing that appeared on the outwardly aspect that would say to them that he had a disability,” Jennifer explained. “He excelled in a lot of areas of his life, and really lived despite his epilepsy.”
It was in November of 2017 when he unexpectedly died from a seizure in his sleep. He would’ve graduated from Iowa State this Saturday, May 8.
For his graduation walk, “The B Team” made up of family, friends, and classmates is participating in and raising money for the virtual Walk to End Epilepsy in his memory.
“A lot of people might think that our journey would have ended when Brendan passed away, but through his love and the life that he lived. we just couldn’t stop,” Jennifer said. “I can’t say no to helping bring awareness to this, or helping advocate, getting the knowledge to parents.”
Jennifer works with different foundations to help other families who have lost loved ones to seizures, and even assists a research team at the University of Iowa. She says people coming together to keep Brendan’s memory alive means so much.
“You always want to remember your child. I think Brendan we are learning impacted so many people,” Jennifer said. “And unfortunately I would hate to say that to lose a child, that’s when you learn really who that person was because you have all these people are sharing stories and memories of them.”
“The B Team” has the goal of raising $2,021 ahead of graduation day. If you’d like to donate to the cause, click here.