A Toodyay family’s heartbreak at losing their daughter and sister may soon be helping spare other families a similar tragedy.
Wendy and Darryl Sofoulis, along with sons Zack and Matt, presented a $17,000 cheque to Genetic Services of WA director Nick Pachter to help fund a new clinic working to find answers for people with unexplained heart problems.
The donation came from the proceeds of fundraising efforts held in honour of Alecia Sofoulis, a 27-year-old who died unexpectedly and without warning of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) in 2011.
Alecia was a chiropractor who regularly volunteered to tend to injuries at Toodyay and Mt Helena football clubs, as well as a water polo club.
Mrs Sofoulis said her daughter was getting ready to volunteer on December 27, 2011, when she passed away.
“She had just had a nap and texted somebody at the club to get the address of the venue,” she said.
“The venue was about a half-hour from her place in Bellevue, but she never got there. Her boyfriend found her at home the next morning.”
Alecia’s death was a devastating shock for her close-knit family, who two days earlier had spent Christmas together and gathered again on Boxing Day for a picnic at Lake Leschenaultia.
Mrs Sofoulis said her daughter had been a generous and outgoing young woman who worked two jobs to put herself through university.
She said with no family history of heart problems, the death of her otherwise healthy daughter was a shock.
Five-and-a-half years on they still have no answers about the exact cause of Alecia’s death, though it is suspected she had a rare genetic condition.
Mrs Sofoulis said she hoped the $17,000 donation would enable the clinic to continue to work to find answers for families such as theirs and potentially identify people at risk so preventative measures can be taken.
The money was raised from an annual match between Toodyay and Mt Helena football clubs and a Butterfly Ball.