Grand Ledge Family Uses Grief To Change Community

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

It was a day of fun and excitement for many of the families who attended the second annual run and play for Ariana Mae event at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, Saturday.
However, the day was still bittersweet for the Lusis family, who started the event last year.

Kris and Kelly Lusis, of Grand Ledge, lost their daughter, Ariana, back in November of 2010. She was only 21 months old.

"She passed away in her sleep and we were not given an explanation for her death," said Kelly Lusis. "We started searching for answers and we stumbled upon a program called SUDC, which stands for Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood."

Through that program, the Lusis family met other families with similar experiences. They also met researchers who study the disease.

It was then that they had an idea.

"We wanted to raise money for SUDC and we decided to organize an event in her honor," said Lusis.

That event became the Run and Play for Ariana Mae and last year, it raised more than $16,000 dollars for childhood death research.
This year, more events were added, including face painting and a bounce house. The Lusis family also added another goal to their list.

"They've decided to put on this event to give back to the community," said Sarah Anderson, a family friend and event coordinator for the event. "We're raising money to build a toddler play structure at Fitzgerald Park."

If enough money is raised, the structure will be built in September. In the meantime, Kris and Kelly Lusis just want their daughter's story to get out.

"We can either let it destroy us, or we can grow from it and we can do some really great things with it," said Lusis.

If you wish to learn more about Ariana and her cause, you can go to

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  • by Kerri Location: Tang on Aug 26, 2012 at 07:22 AM
    My heart goes out to this family. We're been there. Our first daughter was hospitalized, at 14 mons, after what we thought was the flu, and then see went into convulsions. After 4 mons in intensive, isolation room at U of M (Michigan), she passed away. We could not hold her or be with her, as I was pregnant, and drs didn't know if it was contagious. For 4 long months we visited her "thru a window" of her room. I never want to go thru that again. Easter Seals (Crippled Childrens) paid for every $ of her stay, which we never knew the amt, but we know the room alone was $180 a day, everything else. We give as much as we can to C.C. organization. They are one of the best. An autopsy (then) showed no positive reason for the underlying cause, (she ultimately died from multiple organ failure). This was in '69. Ironically about 5 yrs ago, a dr on Oprah, revealed that a woman on thyroid, should stay on it when pregnant. I was on thyroid, dr's (then) thought it dangerous. It caused her death.
  • by Tamme on Aug 25, 2012 at 08:17 PM
    This was a great event hosted by a terrific family. Even though I don't live in the community, it is nice to see people getting involved and helping out community members. Kelly and Kris put in countless hours trying to make this a special day and it truly was.
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