Midlothian family honors late toddler with ‘Maeve’s Miles’

Every year on August 31, the Hensel family along with their loved ones walk two miles in honor of their toddler Maeve who died unexpectedly in April 2020.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WWBT) -August 31 marks a bittersweet day for a Midlothian family. It’s the day Kristen and David Hensel would have celebrated their daughter’s 4th birthday.

However, Maeve Hensel died unexpectedly in April 2020. The medical examiner placed her death as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood or SUDC.

“Every day, there’s a pain. The realization still sinks in differently each day,” David Hensel said.

Maeve Hensel’s birthday should be a day full of light and joy.

Instead, her parents are grappling with her absence.

“It will be the third year that she is not with us, and we feel like it’s very special to keep celebrating, just most importantly, just to keep her memory alive,” Kristen said. “She was just always happy.”

Maeve died in April 2020 due to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC).

That means no one, including the medical examiner, can say how she died.

“And then it was 1 a.m. when I went in to get her to give her her next dose of medication, and she was unresponsive. Of course, we tried CPR, called 911 right away, but she was gone,” said Kristen Hensel.

Now, the Hensel family is kicking off the third year of Maeve’s Miles. Family, friends, and strangers are asked to make a two-mile journey in her memory.

“Another reason why we walk is Maeve love going for a walk. She never met a stranger she didn’t say hi to. She loves dogs, so she was always trying to pet the dogs in the neighborhood,” David said. “It’s odd for us because the walk that we do is the same walk she was she was doing before.”

They also hope Maeve’s Miles will call attention to an issue most have never heard of.

“We, like many people, had never heard of it before,” Kristen said. “You hear of SIDS all the time, but a lot of people have never heard of this.”

According to the SUDC Foundation, this category of death is rare.

In the US, nearly 400 children are lost to SUDC each year.

The majority of them are between the ages of 1 and 4.

“But knowing the support, seeing those from England and Scotland participating, family across the country, and then even really our support here locally, with close friends and family...it takes us aback because we realize how much people want to help,” David said.

Two Chesterfield parents are now working to raise awareness and donations to one day help explain what’s now unexplainable.

If you want to bike, walk, or run two miles in Maeve’s honor, don’t forget to post a photo on social media with the hashtag #MaevesMiles.