Brain aneurysm survivor to host July 30 benefit
A new ride through Rock County is aimed at drawing awareness to and raising money for those suffering from brain aneurysms. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Friday's Janesville Gazette.
IF YOU GO
What: Ride of Awareness Poker Run/Brain Aneurysm Foundation kick-off party
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, July 23.
Where: Klub Bub, 46 Merchant Row, Milton.
Featured: Entertainment and raffles
What: Ride of Awareness Poker Run
When: Registration is at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 30.
Cost: $15, which includes the poker run, pig roast, T-shirt and bracelet.
Where: JR’s Pub, 11624 N. Nelson St., Milton.
In addition: A pig roast, entertainment and raffles will be presented for $5 per person starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30. Swimming, camping and boating also will be available at Lakeview Campgrounds & Lakefront Bar, 1903 Highway 59 East, Milton.
Details: For more information, visit bafound.donorpages.com/rideofawareness.
BY THE NUMBERS
6 million: Number of people in the United State who have an unruptured brain aneurysm.
24,000: Number of people in the United States annually who will experience a ruptured brain aneurysm
40 percent: Percentage of those who will die after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm.
JANESVILLE The morning of Jan. 27, 2010, started much like any other for Brenda Schmittinger.
Working as news clerk for the Janesville Gazette, Schmittinger was well into her daily routine when a call from an angry customer interrupted her stride. She listened, tried her best to solve the problem and hung up the phone.
She describes what happened next as a gushing feeling—similar to a water balloon bursting—above her left eyebrow.
“I felt the (brain aneurysm) burst, but I couldn’t understand what it was,’’ Schmittinger said.
Within seconds she felt horrendous pain carrying the blunt force of a stabbing ice pick. Then came the rush of a headache three times worse than any migraine.
Paramedics took Schmittinger, 44, of Janesville from the Gazette to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center. From there she was flown by helicopter to University Hospital in Madison to undergo surgery.
When Schmittinger woke up three days later, she thought she’d had a heart attack. Her family, which kept vigil at her bedside, gradually explained what had happened.
Meanwhile she began to fear what would happen next. She wondered if she’d be able to return work and school full time, function daily with normalcy or comprehend certain things.
“Am I going to survive this?” she wondered.
Schmittinger was one of the lucky ones. Each year, 40 percent of the 24,000 Americans who suffer ruptured brain aneurysms die, says the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. The foundation is the country’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to providing awareness, education, support and research funding to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysm ruptures.
Schmittinger knows how lucky she is to have made almost a complete recovery.
“I’m very blessed,” she said.
To show her appreciation, Schmittinger and a core team of eight family members have spent months planning Ride of Awareness Poker Run and Pig Roast on Saturday, July 30. Proceeds benefit the foundation.
Christine Buckley, executive director of the foundation, appreciates the potential donations, but it’s the educational initiative that is even more crucial, she said.
“There’s still such a lack of knowledge in general with the public, it’s something we try to build on every day,” Buckley said. “Mostly, the foundation appreciates Brenda getting the word out and bringing attention to brain aneurysms.”
Schmittinger is organizing the fundraiser both as a way to heal and to promote awareness of aneurysms and the foundation.
“Since I started organizing this event, the numbers are staggering as to how many people have gone through this,’’ she said.
Schmittinger wants to educate the public about what support is available as well as when, where and how to get it. That’s why she’ll have information available about the foundation on hand at the benefit.
Attending monthly foundation support meetings and communicating with others who were going through what she experienced greatly helped in her recovery, Schmittinger said.
“That verbal support has been tremendous,’’ she said.
September 2011 also has been declared Brain Aneurysm Month after Gov. Scott Walker sponsored and filed a resolution for the measure via a recommendation from Schmittinger.
“It’s about bringing awareness of the BAF (foundation), which has been a key factor in my recovery,” she said.
Warning signs and risk factors
Warning signs precede about 40 percent of major brain aneurysm ruptures. They include localized headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light and loss of sensation
Risk factors that medical professionals believe contribute to the formation of brain aneurysms include smoking, hypertension, drug use, infection, traumatic head injury, family history, select inherited disorders and presence of abnormal connection between veins and arteries and usually congenital.
ABOUT THE BRAIN ANEURYSM FOUNDATION
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation was established in 1994 in Boston as a public charity. It is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to providing awareness, education, support and research funding to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysm ruptures in the United States.
The organization also provides education materials and awareness information to healthcare professionals and the general public, plus provides support for patients and their loved ones.
The foundation relies on fundraising support from individuals and organizations to continue to fund education and research to promote early detection of brain aneurysms.
For more information, visit bafound.org