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Hiking for hope

Event commemorates Nisky teen struck by brain aneurysm

One year after a brain aneurysm killed 13-year-old Delany Van Wert, her family is holding a Hike-a-Thon to help prevent another family from experiencing the same tragedy.

We just want to do something positive, and it as a little past her year anniversary, and we just wanted to do something that will possibly help someone in the future to realize what some signs might be, said Susan Van Wert, mother of Delany.

The Hike-a-Thon is set for Sunday, May 15, with registration starting at 2 p.m. at Rosendale Elementary School in Niskayuna and the hike beginning at 3 p.m. at the school and continuing to the nearby Lisha Kill Nature Preserve. Registration is $20 per family or individual, and includes a free event T-shirt if pre-registered by April 29.

Delaney's death on May 7 of last year came as a surprise to her family, and a number of symptoms that led up to the tragedy weren't recognized. Before the aneurysm ruptured, Delaney was taken to see the doctor, but due to her young age and previous ear problems, including a hole in her eardrum, her condition wasn't thought to be life-threatening.

"She was dizzy a few days before she actually collapsed, and we had her see the doctors and they had her doing blood work, and we thought it might be her ears," said Susan Van Wert. "It was a shock because nobody expected it to be something that is deadly, and she didn't suffer any headaches that week. She went to school and she functioned pretty normally and she would call me if she got dizzy."

Due to Delany's ear problems, it was thought she was having an equilibrium problem. In the days before, she was also sensitive to bright light, such as in a mall and outside, but since she wasn't in bright light often, she didn't feel dizzy too often. Looking back, said Susan, she realized some of the warning signs, but she doesn't blame anyone for the outcome.

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