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Aneurysm Awareness Walk Planned for September

Nurses and Patient’s Family Work Together to Organize New Event


Aneurysm patient Anita Sharp (left) and one of her Nebraska Medical Center nurses, Sarina McNeel (right)

When his mother first came to the hospital, Roger Lahr was most concerned with her survival. Anita Sharp, his mother, was dealing with a very serious condition. When it started, the family from Dow City, IA had no idea just how serious.

“It started December 22,” Lahr recalls. “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.

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 learning about aneurysms and how they’re treated, Sharp’s family realized there was a real need for people to learn more.

“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,” says Sarina McNeel, one of her 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. Most importantly, there will also be an education tent and nurses to provide screenings to people interested in learning more about aneurysm. Organizers hope to have at least 500 people running or walking and even more people volunteering.

Pre-registration for the run and walk runs through August 16. The cost is $30 and includes a t-shirt. Half the money raised at the event will support the Brain Aneurysm Foundation; the other half will go to create a patient assistance fund at The Nebraska Medical Center specifically for brain aneurysm patients and their families.

Anita Sharp made a stunning recovery. When she was first admitted to the hospital, it was questionable whether she would even survive. After nearly a month at the medical center, and two months in rehab, Sharp returned home to family and friends in Dow City. Her recovery has even inspired the nurses who cared for her.

“We did not expect her to recover this well,” McNeel says. “She’s further along now than any of us expected.”

“She’s getting back to being herself,” says Lahr, her son. “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. She’ll also be throwing out the first pitch at the Omaha Stormchasers baseball game on July 28 during a community aneurysm awareness night.

Anyone interested in participating in the run or walk can sign up at http://bafound.donorpages.com/SharpRace/ or by scanning the QR code below with a smart phone scanner. Volunteers are needed as well. Anyone interested in helping at the event can email asharprace@cox.net or call 402-699-2666.