FAIRFIELD, Conn. – For the past four months, Sally Fulcher of Fairfield has been training to run her first half-marathon this Sunday. But her goal goes beyond tackling the 13.1-mile course: She is seeking to raise awareness for an incurable disease affecting her friend’s young daughter.
For Cindy Shanley, the past year has been filled with doctor’s visits, hospital stays and a constant awareness of the brain disorder hydrocephalus, which afflicts her 20-month-old daughter, Reagan.
The painful condition causes an abnormal amount of spinal fluid to build, widening spaces in the brain. It can cause increased pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head as well as other problems. It can be fatal.
“There is no cure for this,” Shanley said. The only treatment is surgical, to release the fluid built up in the brain. Even at her young age, Reagan, she said, has already had two surgeries to reduce the amount of fluid in her brain.
Some children are born with hydrocephalus and others develop it. The condition is most common in infants and affects nearly one in every 500 births. Reagan seems to have developed the problem.
“What Sally is doing is to raise awareness.” Shanley said. She and her family are grateful for the time and effort that Fulcher is putting in to help their cause.
Always a runner, Fulcher said she has not done any long-distance runs since having children and has never run far as a half-marathon.
But having the motivation to raise money for awareness and research for her friend’s second child pushed her into running the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half, which benefits the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation.
“I knew this was a great cause,” Fulcher said. Before Reagan was diagnosed, she said she had no idea that the condition even existed.
“This is the longest I’ve ever run,” Fulcher said. “And it’s a pretty hilly course.”
But she’s hoping the weather will be on her side Sunday and won’t be too hot as she hits the course.
So far, Fulcher’s donation page has raised over $4,800, nearly double her initial goal. Donations can still be made online.
More than 4,000 runners are expected to participate in the 34th Stratton Faxon Fairfield half marathon on June 22 and there are probably that many reasons why they do it.
Some of the top runners, like the Kenyans, run for the prize money while others do it for more personal aspirations.
Southport resident Sally Fulcher, who will be taking part in her first half marathon in two weeks, falls into the latter category.
She is running the Fairfield race in honor of her friend Cindy Shanley’s 20-month-old daughter Reagan, who has an incurable brain condition known as Hydrocephalus.
“I decided to run the Stratton Faxon Fairfield half to raise some money for a wonderful cause very close to my heart,” Fulcher said. “When Reagan was first diagnosed with this disease, I remember thinking I’d never even heard of it, which is part of the problem, and I hope to change that.”
Fulcher has set up a website for friends and family to help support her mission at www.active.com/donate/runsallyrun and already has raised more than $2,000.
Occurring in approximately one of every 500 births, Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excessive cerebral spinal fluid gathers in the brain, abnormally widening spaces in the brain and placing potentially harmful pressure on brain tissues.
Since there hasn’t been a lot of advancements in treatment, many affected with the disease are unable to lead productive lives.
Hydrocephalus is the leading cause for pediatric brain surgery in the United States and can be fatal if left untreated.
Fulcher has done short races for years and ran some 5K and 10K events when she lived in England.
However, her last official race was the JP Morgan Chase Challenge four years ago before she had kids.
Including the 5K race (June 21 at 8:15 a.m.) , which generally attracts in excess of 1,000 runners, more than 5,000 people will hit Jennings Beach for one of the top half marathons in New England.
The half marathon will begin 15 minutes earlier this year with an 8:15 a.m. start.
Kenyans took the top-three spots last year led by Eric Chirchir, who finished with a winning time of 1:05.58, a pace of just over five minutes per mile.
HAMILTON – How far would you go to help someone you love? For Katie Gaven, the answer was 26 miles.
The Hamilton resident competed in the grueling New Jersey Devilman Duathlon — which calls for contestants to perform a 6-mile run on top of a 20-mile bike ride — in Cumberland County earlier this month in order to raise money and awareness for the rare brain disease affecting her 21-year-old cousin, Adrienne D’Oria.
“The race wasn’t a fundraiser for anything in particular, so I was thinking of how I could fundraise for something, and I thought of my cousin,” Gaven said. “Her disability is one that goes under the radar a lot, so I just felt like I needed to make people more aware.”
D’Oria is afflicted with hydrocephalus, a condition in which excessive fluid gathers in the brain, placing a potentially damaging amount of pressure on brain cells. Affecting about one of every 500 births — and about 1 million Americans — the disease has no cure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Often those suffering from it are limited in the tasks they can perform.
The condition is so relatively unknown that Gaven, an occupational therapist who works with people suffering from a range of disabilities, said even many in her field are unfamiliar with it.
“I raised a lot of the money through my school, and a lot of people participated in that and asked what this disease was,” she said. “My aunt just kept saying ‘That’s so great. That’s the whole point of doing these fundraisers — to make people more aware of this condition.’”
Gaven spoke about the number of trials her cousin had already been through in 21 years. Born with the condition, she was fitted with a device inside her head that keeps track of her condition.
If a test indicates something is wrong with that system, or once she has grown and needs the machine to be refitted, she must undergo intensive operations where part of her skull is cut open in order for doctors to fix or replace the device.
Gaven’s fundraising ventures also helped bring in $1,000 to help find a cure, she said.
“What inspired me, too, is that she’s had over 50 brain surgeries and procedures all together, and she will still go out and run a mile,” Gaven said. “And to me, that’s just unbelievable and amazing because sometimes I struggle with getting up in the morning and running, and she’s gone through all this and still does it.”
D’Oria’s perseverance and determination inspired and helped Gaven throughout the race, which will be her last after many years of participating in similar events, she said. The thoughts were especially helpful for Gaven in moments of weakness during the race, she said.
“When you’re getting tired and fatigued and want to give up, I’d think of her and it was motivation to keep going,” she said. “She’s definitely gone through a lot for someone who’s only 21. She inspires a lot of people, and I don’t think she even realizes that.”
Danielle & Kel Roberts are the PHF State Chapter Directors of Alabama
HARTSELLE, AL (WAFF) -
Young mother of two Danielle Roberts told us, “I was 16 weeks pregnant when they told us she had hydrocephalus.”
Her husband Kel Roberts said they were shocked to learn the daughter Danielle was carrying had water on her brain.
“There was so much damage and so little brain that was left that she really wouldn’t have a chance, and we were asked to make a choice at that point whether or not to ‘carry on,” he said.
And carry on they did. Kel said there was a lot of prayer and support.
“If we back track to the very beginning, there was not a whole lot of hope for anything. We’re three years more than what they really gave us,” he said.
Reagan is now a sweet, coy three year old with a shunt. Her mom described how it works.
“This part goes in the brain and it drains the pressurized fluids. Once that fills up, it will drain out and it drains out into about her abdomen,” said Danielle.
She says the body absorbs the fluid. This is basically the same technology available in the 70′s.
There are some developmental delays with Reagan.
“The biggest delay that she’s got would be mobility,” said Danielle.
Reagan’s grandmother has a nickname for this precious bundle. She calls her ‘Amazing Grace,’ and it’s easy to see why.
He dad says she’s making great progress.
“She is not limited in any way. She gets around on her own. She is more than capable and more than willing and strong enough to do and be what ever she wants to be,” said Kel.
She recently suffered a seizure, so her parents took her to her neurologist. Current test results show remarkable improvements. “She is super intelligent. I mean it just blows us away every day. And we treat every day as a miracle”, adds Kel.
To learn more about hydrocephalus:
Hydrocephalus kids blog
AL Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation
National Institute of Health
Great post-event article about the PHF Benefit Concert this past Saturday in Detroit, Michigan starring Teen Nation Tour, which raised $3,330+ for Hydrocephalus Research!
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a Resolution last week recognizing September 2014 as Hydrocephalus Awareness Month throughout the State of Ohio.
Special thanks to PHF Ohio State Chapter Director Ashley Pope for making this happen!
DETROIT, MI- Employees of one of General Motors Co.’s largest Michigan production facilities are rallying together to help raise awareness of an incurable disorder that is impacting one of their fellow employees and his family.
Hawke Adams, 5-year-old son of quality engineer Jason Adams at GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, has hydrocephalus – a disorder that causes excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain that creates harmful pressure that can be fatal.
“It’s real personal to me,” said Jason Adams, who also serves as co-director of the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation. “So, the plant leadership, UAW and GM as a whole got behind the idea of, ‘let’s do something.’ ”
As part of a monthly “diversity initiative” program, workers and plant leadership decided to help sponsor a benefit concert with the “Teen Nation Tour” in an effort to help raise awareness of the disorder, which has already caused Hawke to have 10 brain surgeries.
Doneen McDowell, Detroit-Hamtramck plant manager, said once hearing about Hawke, the Diversity Initiative team felt the concert was a great opportunity to help.
We wanted to figure out a way we could support Jason because he does a lot for the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation,” she said. “Not only because his son has it, but he’s developed a connection with other families that have it.
“We felt a connection the minute he started talking about it.”
The concert, which features a number of young singers, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, 200 Walker St. in Detroit. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., followed by a special red carpet entrance by the performers at 6 p.m. and a VIP meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are still available starting at $5 for children 6-12 years old and $10 for adults and VIP tickets to meet the performers. Children under 6 years old are free. For tickets, call 810-441-9170 or email Jason.Adams@gm.com.
Proceeds from the “Teen Nation Tour” concert will go toward the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation, which Jason Adams and others also annually lobby for on Capitol Hill.
Performers include former “X Factor” contestant J Ryan, 14, of San Antonio, Texas; Tristan Blaine, 14, of Frisco, Texas; Nic Neufeld, 11, of Dodsland, Saskatchewan; Faith Marie Shirley, 15 of San Antonio, Texas; Collin Kozola, 17, of Naperville, Illinois, Katie Akin, 14, of Atlanta, GA; and Kaity Floyd, 20, of Dallas.
The number of people who develop hydrocephalus or who are currently living with it is difficult to establish since the condition occurs in children and adults, and can develop later in life. Some estimates report one to two of every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus.
For more information on the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation, or to donate, visit hydrocephaluskids.org.