Wellness Wednesday - Family's crisis sparks fundraising run

by Paul Baltes, The Nebraska Medical Center | July 17, 2013

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Anita Sharp, left, and critical care nurse Sarina McNeel
When Anita Sharp first came to the hospital, she was dealing with a very serious condition. When it started, her family, from Dow City, Ia., had no idea just how serious.

"It started December 22," her son Roger Lahr said. "She had a very bad headache and other serious symptoms."

The next day, she was rushed to Omaha for emergency surgery. A brain scan revealed that an aneurysm, or bulging blood vessel, had burst inside her brain.

The Nebraska Medical Center surgeons expertly repaired the aneurysm, but Sharp's recovery was just beginning. She was in a medically-induced coma in the intensive care unit. As they waited for her condition to improve, Sharp's family wanted to learn more about the condition. While they did, the family also wanted to provide information to others.

"While she was still in our unit, the family made T-shirts and other items to sell as a fundraiser for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation," said Sarina McNeel, one of Sharp's critical care nurses at the medical center. "Together we started thinking about what else we could do."

McNeel had the idea of organizing a charity run and walk. With the help of the aneurysm foundation and The Nebraska Medical Center's Office of Development, they organized the walk and run for Sept. 8 at Lake Zorinksy in west Omaha.

The event will consist of a 5K (3.1 mile) timed run, a one-mile fun walk, and kids' activities. There will also be an education tent and nurses to provide screenings to people interested in learning more about aneurysm.

Pre-registration for the run and walk runs through August 16. The cost, $30, includes a t-shirt. Money raised will support the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and will create a patient assistance fund at The Nebraska Medical Center for brain aneurysm patients and their families.

Anita Sharp made a stunning recovery. After nearly a month at the medical center, and two months in rehab, Sharp returned home to family and friends in Dow City.

"She's getting back to being herself," Lahr said. "But this was a life-changer."

Sharp will be one of about 150 people at the event whose lives have been affected by an aneurysm.

Anyone interested in participating in the run or walk can sign up here. Volunteers are needed as well. Anyone interested in helping at the event can email Anita Sharp or call 402-699-2666.

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