A Parent’s Quest to Raise Awareness

Since the shocking death of her healthy 2-year-old daughter Vienna Carly Savino in her sleep on November 12, 2017, Dr. Denise Wunderler ’94 has been passionate about increasing awareness of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC).

By: Mike Falk  Tuesday, August 27, 2019 04:33 PM

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Dr. Denise Wunderler '94 holds daughter Vienna in the family’s final photo two months before Vienna’s death.

Since the shocking death of her healthy 2-year-old daughter Vienna Carly Savino in her sleep on November 12, 2017, Dr. Denise Wunderler ’94 has been passionate about increasing awareness of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). Despite being physicians, both Wunderler and her husband first learned of SUDC when it happened to their child. SUDC, which affects kids 1 to 18 years old, is scarcely known in the medical community or among the general public.

On what should have been her daughter’s fourth birthday, January 19, 2019, Wunderler founded the nonprofit 501(c)(3), Team Vienna 4 SUDC Awareness Inc. Team Vienna’s mission is to increase awareness and research support for SUDC and, ultimately, uncover causes and preventative measures so other families won’t have to endure the pain of child loss. The organization’s website can be found at TeamViennaSUDC.org.

Among the recent projects was the second annual Vienna’s Day of International SUDC Awareness on May 18, 2019, when people from all seven continents engaged in activities (walking, running, biking, playing volleyball, doing CrossFit) while remembering Vienna.

Other successful endeavors by Wunderler include delivering lectures to residents and attending physicians in New York and New Jersey, writing the lyrics to “I Think About You (Song for Vienna),” organizing walks and races and helping to design the Vienna Collection of designer handbags with Lauren Farrell NY.

“I see myself first and foremost as a mommy on a mission,” says Wunderler, who played basketball at Muhlenberg and has been a team physician for USA Volleyball since 2009. “Sustaining Vienna’s memory and legacy are incredibly important to me. It is heartbreaking to hear about another family who lost a child. We have been living this nightmare daily since she died, so when it happens to others, I know exactly what they’re going through, and my deep pain of loss is accentuated.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of Muhlenberg Magazine.