The Inspiration for The CeCe Bear®
CeCe Cunningham was just shy of her first birthday when she had her first seizure. Her parents, not knowing what was wrong, feared the worst as they called 911. At the hospital, doctors told them it could have been caused by a fever that spiked – a very common ailment among toddlers. The family was shaken but they chalked it up to being one of the many scares associated with parenthood.
Shortly afterwards, CeCe had her second seizure, which lasted over 45 minutes. This resulted in the official diagnosis of epilepsy.
Fear, sadness, and anger were the Cunninghams’ immediate reactions. They were completely uninformed about the disease and felt unprepared to handle the situation as the emotional rollercoaster began, complete with regular trips to hospital, untold tests and visits with specialists.
During one of the hospital stays, a nurse brought out a stuffed animal. It was a mother rabbit with an attached baby rabbit. CeCe and her sister Reese immediately started to do what kids do best – they laughed and played with what affectionately became known as “MeMe” and “Baby MeMe.” They were oblivious to the hospital setting and what it meant, and they didn’t notice for a second the stress and worry on their parents’ faces. At this display, Pete and Sarah looked at each other, and a little of their fear went away – at that point, they realized they could do this.
In the end, CeCe was taken by epilepsy, but it did not rule her life. She grew into one of the liveliest and most vibrant personalities a person could ever hope to meet. With the love and support of her family and many friends, she lived a wonderful life.
Thinking back to that day in the hospital, the small act of kindness of providing a simple stuffed animal during a time of intense personal and collective stress was a tremendous gift for which the family is eternally grateful.
The CeCe Bear Initiative is designed to bring that same comfort to both parents and children at a very difficult time – the point of diagnosis and clinical treatment.
Momma “MeMe” and Baby “MeMe” are still CeCe’s twin sister’s favorite companions. In CeCe’s absence, they are still providing comfort and reminding us of her everlasting strength and spirit.