“HOW do you define the loss of one of your children? How do you articulate the impact of such a loss to a parent, on a family or to a group of friends? There simply are no words, just a void, endless, painful and utterly unbearable.”
Those are the words of a Dickens Heath father whose teenage daughter tragically drowned in a canal on July 3 last year.
Sophie Drozdzik was just 18-years-old when she was found by her family drowned in Dickens Heath canal after suffering an epileptic seizure.
Her death came just hours after the Warwickshire College student discovered she had achieved the grades she required to follow her dreams and study TV Production at Bournemouth University.
Now her father, Steve Drozdizk, is leading a sponsored walk to raise money and awareness for juvenile myoclonic epilepsy – the condition which caused Sophie’s irregular seizures and contributed to her untimely death.
“This first year living without Sophie has been particularly painful and we did not want the date we lost her to pass without some kind of recognition,” he told the Observer.
“Sophie was never one to dwell on negative aspects in life and therefore it didn’t feel appropriate to hold a memorial or other such traditional gathering.
“Sophie died whilst engaging in a pastime that she enjoyed – she particularly loved the stretch of canal where we lost her and it seemed right that in remembering Sophie we invited those people whose lives she touched to walk with us and raise funds in her name for The Sophie Drozdzik Epilepsy Research Trust (SDERT).”
Sophie’s family established SDERT last year in memory of their beloved daughter and to prevent other young people and families going through the same heartache they endured.
The family hope the event raises £5,000, but have said they will not measure the success of the event on how much money is raised.
Mr Drozdzik added: “Keeping Sophie’s legacy alive through SDERT is not a conscious choice it is a parental need.
“Raising funds to aid epilepsy research, awareness of the condition and its dangers is something our family feels strongly about.
“If we can help prevent similar tragedies and the associated pain and anguish suffered by friends and family, then at least we can feel that something positive has come out of our own trauma.
“Sophie was all about supporting people to be the best they could be, on their own terms and in their own way.
“We have designed the walk with this approach in mind, there is no official start or finish time, we are simply asking people to “Stand Up For Sophie” and walk in support of Epilepsy Research as friends, as a family or as individuals at any time between 10am and 6pm.”
The walk will take place on the stretch of North Stratford Canal towpath between The Drawbridge Pub, Shirley and the Boot Inn at Lapworth – including the stretch around Dickens Heath where Sophie lost her life.
Walkers can opt for a short stroll between the bridges in Dickens Health, bronze and silver walks at 3 and 5 miles respectively, or an 8 mile gold walk along the canal.
Wardens will be stationed along the route to support walkers and hand out water, while a minibus service will shuttle people back to their starting points.
Email [email protected] to find out more details and to register your interest in taking part in the event or visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sophie-drozdzik to make a donation.