Laura Crandall, the mother of three daughters at Watchung Elementary, has been announced as the winner of Glamour Magazine's annual 'Woman of Your Year' Award.
Crandall is the co-founder and co-director of the CJ Foundation’s SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) Program.
The CJ Foundation’s press release announcing the award stated that, “Glamour’s Woman of Your Year contest pays tribute to a real-life woman who uses her strength, agility, and compassion to incite major change in her community."
According to the release, ten finalists were selected from the many entries recieved for the honor. An online voting system then narrowed the field of ten down to just five hopefuls. With more than 54,000 votes sent in from across the country, Crandall was named the winner.
She was susequently honored at a star-studded gala at New York City's Lincoln Center on Monday, November 5.
“I felt so honored to have even been nominated and selected to be one of the top ten finalists for this award,” said Crandall. “And to learn that I won is just incredible. I’m thrilled and amazed at all that has happened and the possibilities [for helping] the SUDC Program.
"It is my hope that this accomplishment will pave the way for more SUDC awareness, and that ultimately, we can help support more families and continue to fund crucial research to end SUDC once and for all.”
Crandall reported that under the direction of the CJ Foundation, the national SUDC Program has so far raised nearly $700,000 through private donations and fundraising events. The CJ Foundation for SIDS is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the special needs of the SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) community through funding SIDS research, support services and public awareness programs.
Laura Crandall is a Neurological Clinical Specialist of Physical Therapy. Daughter Maria was born on April 21, 1996, the first child for Laura and her husband, Josh. On July 30, 1997, at the age of 15 months, Maria died while taking a nap. Her death was eventually ruled as “Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.”
Laura channeled her grief over the loss of her daughter into advocating for a change in the state legislation. She lobbied for a new child death investigation bill in New Jersey that standardizes pediatric autopsies. The bill was passed and signed into law in May of 2000.
In 2001, the SUDC Program was born through the CJ Foundation for SIDS. Previously, the syndrome particular to older children did not have a name, despite increasing awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome over the past several decades. Crandall and other parents who had lost children to the mysterious syndrome founded the SUDC program, which has grown over the past several years and is becoming incresingly recognized by the scientific and medical communities worldwide.
In 2005, Crandall successfully advocated for further change under the New Jersey state Legislature under Governor Richard Codey to authorize continued research into the causes of SIDS and SUDC.