Chanda Gunn is an accomplished ice hockey player known for overcoming obstacles on and off the rink. When she was nine, her parents noticed she was having unusual muscle jerks. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with juvenile absence epilepsy. Chanda quickly gained control over her epilepsy with anti-seizure medication.
She excelled at hockey in her youth, and the University of Wisconsin awarded her an athletic scholarship to play hockey in Madison. Unfortunately, in the middle of her freshman year, she experienced a series of uncontrolled tonic-clonic (formerly called grand mal) seizures and had to drop out of college to regain control over her epilepsy. After meeting with her doctor, she increased her medicine levels, then transferred to Northeastern University to pursue hockey with a different program.
She worked hard to prove to herself and her new coach that epilepsy would not interfere with her performance. Her perseverance paid off when she made the 1998 women’s national team at the end of her sophomore season. In 2004, Chanda was honored with the NCAA Female Sportsmanship Award and College Hockey Humanitarian Award. The following year, she played for the U.S. and helped the team win a gold medal at the World Championships. In 2006, Chanda helped to lead the U.S. team to a bronze medal in the XX Olympic Winter Games held in Turin, Italy. Following the 2007-2008 season, Chanda shifted gears and worked as an assistant coach at Northeastern University.
Today, Chanda lives an active life with her family. She continues to battle epilepsy but never lets it defeat her. She is heavily involved in charity work, serving as an Athletes vs Epilepsy Ambassador. Chanda believes people living with epilepsy should support one another and encourages the community not to let seizures discourage them from chasing their dreams.
In an interview with the Epilepsy Foundation, she shared the secret to her success, “I’ve learned to live with it – the fear of the unknown – because I want to really live life and for me living means playing ice hockey.” Through her efforts with the Athletes vs Epilepsy, Chanda plays a role in spreading epilepsy awareness and raising funds for a cure