What is it?
Tuk Tuk to Turkey will see a team of 4 leave London on a six-thousand kilometre challenge to Turkey – in a Tuk Tuk! The journey, through 21 countries, aims to raise awareness of a condition known as SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in EPilepsy) – which tragically led to the death of 19-year old Emily Sumaria whilst she was studying at the University of Leeds.
At the heart of it:
Five years ago, Emily Sumaria was found dead by her university housemates. At 10:36pm on the 3rd of December, sisters Amy and Emily were joking about their failed fad diets before heading off to Cuba for a family holiday. By 10:36am the next day Emily was dead. Emily was just 19. The Sumaria family have been left with an irreplaceable hole in their lives and are now on a mission to do some something truly wonderful…
Determined to ensure more is known about SUDEP, which kills approximately 500 people every year, Amy, 27, her boyfriend James (also 27) and her parents Rachel and Bharat (57), are on a mission to fund research and raise awareness around the devastating killer with their epic road trip from London to Turkey.
The Sumaria’s Tuk Tuk to Turkey challenge, is looking to raise £120,000 and will go towards SUDEP Action’s Prevent 21 campaign, that will continue to help further ground breaking scientific and clinical developments, provide invaluable support for those desperately in need and create a community for bereaved families.
With the Sumaria’s imminent departure we caught up with Amy, who has shared with us just what went into the planning of Tuk Tuk to Turkey, how the initial idea came about and when as a family (and James) they took the first steps from no longer talking about something for Emily, to actually doing it…
We started planning the Tuk Tuk To Turkey campaign about a year ago. We came up with the idea whilst on holiday after a couple of glasses of Rosé, which might be why it’s as whacky as it is (!). We always knew we weren’t marathon runners and we wanted to do something that would convey the serious message about SUDEP, whilst also being colourful, exciting and an adventure that Emily would be proud of! We chose a Tuk Tuk as a nod to Emily’s half-Indian and half-English heritage and Istanbul felt like the perfect place to finish because it’s where East meets West and so a further nod to her roots (also Tuk Tuk To Turkey had the perfect ring to it!). We chose to drive through 21 countries because we wanted to turn the spotlight on the fact that 21 people die from epilepsy related deaths every week in the UK.
On the anniversary of Emily’s death, 4th of December last year, we published our website, Just Giving, Instagram account, Facebook group etc. and once everyone knew that was the point of no return!
However, the campaign really kicked off in early March this year and since then we’ve been flat out. We hosted anonline auction as part of our fundraising which raised an amazing £23,000 and we have also hosted multiple fundraiser events, made promotional films, launched the Tuk Tuk To Turkey clothing range (as worn by Love Island’s very own Chris Hughes!), made several media appearances including ITV, London Live and the London Evening Standard and much much more.
We have been totally blown away by everyone’s support so far. It’s incredible how so many friends, family and also complet
e strangers have galvanised behind this campaign to make it what it is. We could not have done anything without people sharing our posts and engaging with what we’re doing so wholeheartedly – we’re incredibly humbled by the whole thing and can’t say thank you enough!.
Why 20MC are getting behind it?!
It is through Tuk Tuk to Turkey that the Twenty Mile Club discovered that 21 people a week die from epilepsy in the UK every week and many of those deaths are believed to be avoidable. SUDEP is when someone with epilepsy dies suddenly with no obvious cause of death. It has been described before as akin to adult cot death. SUDEP can strike at any time and it can shatter lives overnight and young adults are particularly at risk. The lack of research coupled with the fact that it’s a difficult topic to broach, means people like Emily, who live with epilepsy, are rarely warned of this risk by their doctors. This doesn’t need to happen and awareness means that people with epilepsy can manage their risk and reduce their chances of dying. Given so many of these deaths are preventable raising awareness is key to saving lives, which is why we want to spread the word far and wide.
Why YOU should too
Get behind this great cause and follow Tuk Tuk to Turkey’s journey as they navigate themselves through these 21 countries. Educate yourself about something that you weren’t aware of before and spread this families truly great mission, so that someone who perhaps was not in the know about SUDEP, suddenly is – you might even safe a life!
How to get involved?!
*JOIN Tuk Tuk to Turkey! If you’d like to join the gang for a couple of days then please get in touch at
For more information on SUDEP and the incredible work done by SUDEP Action please click through to their website here
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Get one of their awesome T-shirts here