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5K seeks to educate about brain aneurysms

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON – On any given day, Jeannie Gatrell could be found at Woodmere Cemetery getting her daily exercise in before an always-busy day unfolded.

After the healthy mom, wife and MU student died suddenly at the age of 47 on Aug. 6, 2012, of a brain aneurysm, her best of friends have rallied to make sure Gatrell was honored and to form Jeannie’s Wish, a nonprofit organization to raise community awareness of brain aneurysms, their symptoms and early detection.

On Sunday, Jeannie’s Wish celebrated Gatrell’s life “Jeannie’s Way” with the first Jeannie’s Run in the Sun, a 5K walk and run at Woodmere that drew in a couple hundred folks from around the Tri-State.

Among the runners was much of the Huntington High School football team, of which her son, Ryan, is a member, as well as nine students from Marshall’s Kappa Delta Pi educational honor society at Marshall, where Gatrell was enrolled when she passed.

Fittingly, the Sunday afternoon 5K run started with a prayer and then a poem, “True Friend,” that was read by Leslie Comer-Porter, who started Jeannie’s Wish with Mindy Backus, Stephanie Dorsey and Melissa McGuffin.

That poem is permanently displayed on a marker (at the one mile mark of Sunday’s race) that Woodmere donated in Gatrell’s honor.

“We four formed Jeannie’s Wish, and basically we will hold the race, and all the proceeds will go to a Jeannie Gatrell Scholarship Fund for any student living in the Tri-State who has been impacted by a brain aneurysm.”

Comer-Porter said as friends they all knew they had to band together to memorialize someone they all considered a “true friend.”

“It was of utmost importance to honor her memory and to try and maybe prevent someone else from suffering from a diagnosis of a brain aneurysm,” Comer-Porter said.

Brain aneurysms affect about 1 in 50 people in the United States. Each year about 30,000 people will suffer a ruptured brain aneurysm (or a weak spot on the wall of the brain artery), and about half of the victims will die. Of those who survive only a third will recover without disabilities.

Although most people with unruptured brain aneurysms are completely asymptomatic, have no symptoms, others may experience double vision, dilated pulpils, pain above and behind the eye, localized headaches and cranial nerve palsy.

Supporting the event, which was emceed by Tim Irr of WSAZ, was Woodmere Memorial Park, which donated the grounds, the marker, water and refreshments, as well as a slew of businesses that included The Dawg, Here We Grow, Dignity Memorial, Northern Management Services, Inc., Gatrell Insurance Group Inc. and others.

Find out more information about Jeannie’s Wish at www.jeannieswish.org.




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