Scarlett’s Story 


Everyone talks about the feeling you get when you meet your child for the first time. That first time you get to hold them in your arms. That first time you hear them cry. Everyone says it’s an indescribable feeling. We could never have imaged how right they would be. The day Scarlett was born was the best day of our lives. She was perfect in every way. She was born at 11:25 AM on August 31, 2015, a happy and healthy 6 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long. From that moment on, she was the center of our universe and lit up the lives of everyone who loves her.

Scarlett loved her Mama and Dada. She said “Dada” all the time. Anytime she heard him coming downstairs in the morning, heard the garage door open after work or saw a picture of him, she would say “Dada.” She could say Mama, but she said Dada much more often. One day shortly before she passed, her Mama came home from work and Scarlett said “Mama! Mama!” over and over. It was the greatest gift her Mama ever received.

Scarlett loved our pets, her fur siblings. She loved our dog Stitch, who she called “Sitch.” She loved our dog Vivien, who she called “Biv.” She loved our cat Max, who she called “Max” or “Maps.” She loved our cat Colby, who she also called “Max” or “Maps.” Actually, every cat she saw was named “Max” or “Maps.” And some other animals that are not even cats were “Max” or “Maps” too.

Scarlett loved to smile. Many people knew her best for her “serious face,” “mean mug” or “grumpy face.” A lot of people thought it was because she didn’t like them, but we always knew it was because she was studying them and taking in every detail. For the first eight months or so of her life, every time Scarlett would go to a new place or meet a new person, she would wear her token scowl. But before too long she learned how much she loved to smile and make other people smile. If we were out in a store or at a restaurant, Scarlett would select someone and stare at them until they looked at her. When they did, she would smile at them, and inevitably they would smile back at her. Once she had effectively won them over, she would move onto her next subject. Scarlett was never happy until she could get the entire restaurant or store fawning over her.

Scarlett loved books. She could read for hours. Her favorite book was “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton. Her Mama would read it to her while Scarlett sat on her lap, and her Dada would mimic the lines of the song by doing a dance that matched each step. Her face would light up and she would clap when he was done and say “Yaaaaay!” Scarlett loved music. Her favorite song was “You are My Sunshine,” which became the theme for her first birthday party. But she also loved “Skitta-ma- rinky-dinky- dink”, “The rain drop song”, “I like to eat apples and bananas”, “Bingo”, “If you’re happy and you know it”, and “Row row row your boat.” She would always say “row row row” after we would sing it.

Scarlett loved life. Every day was a new adventure. She loved laughing and playing. She loved walking and clapping. She loved pointing out her belly, her nose, her eyes and her ears. She loved exploring and getting into trouble. She loved testing us and pushing her limits. She loved touching things, pulling things apart, ripping things up and putting things back together. She loved blowing kisses. She loved, she loved and she loved.

Shortly before her first birthday, Scarlett had her first febrile seizure followed by a second one the next day. After her third febrile seizure occurred overnight in October 2016, we decided to take her to be seen by a neurologist. She went through a series of tests and was ultimately given a clean bill of health. On January 7th, 2017 Scarlett came down with a mild cold and had a slight fever. We gave her a bath and a final performance of “Barnyard Dance” and put her to sleep. A few hours later, her Mama went to check on her, and Scarlett was not breathing in her crib. Her Mama performed CPR and EMTs attempted to resuscitate her. Scarlett was taken to the hospital where doctors determined there was nothing they could do. Scarlett earned her angel wings shortly after 1am on Sunday, January 8, 2017.

There is no measurement for the size of our love for Scarlett or the hole left behind when she left us. Scarlett is deeply loved and missed by her Mama and Dada, her sister Eliana, fur siblings, two grandfathers, two grandmothers, four aunts, four uncles, five cousins, two living great-grandmothers and countless honorary aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who are friends we love like family.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.

The Foundation

The Scarlett Lillian Pauley Foundation was established in loving memory of our beautiful daughter Scarlett in order to promote awareness of and raise funds to support research of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) and the SUDC Foundation, provide support to other bereaved families going through this horrible tragedy, and support local community organizations that support bereaved families in the local Pittsburgh, PA area.


Our Board 


Ryan Pauley

Executive Director & President of the Board


With over a decade of experience in Engineering and Design Quality Assurance, Ryan has spent his career helping organizations solve problems and identify root causes to improve the quality of their products and processes. After losing Scarlett in January 2017 and finding out the medical community had no answer why, Ryan knew he needed do what he could to help solve this problem too. Ryan is a member of the SUDC Ambassador Program acting as an Event Host Ambassador, planning events like the 2018 Inaugural Scramble for Scarlett Golf Tournament. Ryan also coordinated a team of charity runners who participated in the 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon. Because of his efforts, the SUDC Foundation will now be recognized as an official charity partner of the Pittsburgh Marathon starting in 2019. Ryan received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He is a fan of all things Pittsburgh sports, is an avid runner, golfer, animal lover, and a coffee and beer snob. But Ryan is proudest to be the father of his beautiful girls, Scarlett and her little sister, Eliana.


Stephanie Zarecky

Assistant Executive Director & Vice President of the Board


Being Scarlett’s Mama, as well as Mama to Scarlett’s little sister, Eliana, is Stephanie’s favorite and most important job. On top of that, Stephanie has spent over a decade of her career working in communications, public policy and nonprofit advocacy. Stephanie is the Ambassador Program and Public Relations Manager for the SUDC Foundation, where she created and oversees the Foundation’s formal volunteer program and supports the Foundation’s communication efforts. Stephanie began her career working for U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s press office and at Spitfire Strategies, a communications firm that works with nonprofits and foundations in Washington, DC. Before losing Scarlett, Stephanie served as the Volunteer Coordinator at Animal Friends, an animal rescue organization in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to her work with the Scarlett Lillian Pauley Foundation and the SUDC Foundation, Stephanie volunteers with the Still Remembered Project which provides bereaved parents and families Christian-based support and encouragement for a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. Stephanie received her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science from Syracuse University. She is a grammar nerd, animal lover, hockey fan, theatre enthusiast, unapologetic reality TV viewer and amateur fiber artist.

In the News | Interview with Stephanie Zarecky, Scarlett’s mother and Laura Gould-Crandall, SUDC Foundation Director

Scarlett’s Sunshine Act Addresses A Tragic Problem That Has No Solution Yet