Hiking for hope

"Nobody thought it was anything that was going to come to that," said Susan. "It is more common than what people realize."

According to The Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 1 in 50 people in the country have a brain aneurysm that hasn't ruptured and around 26,000 people have a rupture, which equals one rupture every 18 minutes. Once a brain aneurysm ruptures, 40 percent of cases are fatal, and of the surviving individuals, there are 66 percent that face some permanent neurological deficit.

A brain aneurysm occurs when there is a weak bulging spot on the wall of a brain artery. The thinned part of the wall over time is pounded by blood flow within the artery and aneurysms form silently from wear and tear on the arteries. Blood flow causes the weakened wall to swell as the artery wall thins from the dilation.

Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35 to 60 and women suffer more commonly than men, by a 3-to-2 margin. A child having a brain aneurysm is rare.

"It is very unusual and very sad when it happens to a young person," said Ginny Tocci, director of development for The Brain Aneurysm Foundation. "It is very sad because brain aneurysms can strike people of all ages, and it is unusual to have it strike young people."

Having a Hike-a-Thon to raise money was a unique event to benefit the group, said Tocci, who helped Susan Van Wert set up the event page on the organization's website. Van Wert said the event type was chosen because her family always enjoyed hiking. Van Wert's other children include 21-year-old Terry, 18-year-old Tyler and 16-year-old Jacey.

"We like to hike as a family, even from the time Delany was a little toddler. Hiking was a big part of all my kids' upbringing, and we used to come up to Lisha Kill too," said Van Wert.

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