SUMMIT, NJ - They had never met, but they were hardly strangers, having shared triumph over tragedy linked by a unique circumstance one could only chalk up to fate.
Race of Their Lives: Overlook 5K Unites Two Who Share Common Destiny
Yet there they stood, on a set located in Summit's HomeTowne Television studios, putting a face on their shared destiny, a human connection finally made to a relationship -- as well as a circumstance and outcome -- that can only be described as miraculous.
In August of 2009, then 27-year-old Tim Styler -- district manager of The Summit Running Company -- suddenly felt a massive pain in his head. He also was suffering from sensitivity to light, and had a stiff neck. Rushed to Overlook Medical Center, he had a ruptured brain aneurysm, and doctors, including neurosurgeon Dr. Kyle Chapple, moved quickly -- using state-of-the-art techniques, to stabilize him and save his life.
So grateful and impressed by his treatment at Overlook was Styler, that he appeared in a radio advertisement for Overlook. In it, he discussed his symptoms, and the expertise that saved his life. Since the exact cause of brain aneurysm is not fully known, symptom awareness is key, and Styler wanted to share his experience with the world.
Little did he know that by sharing his message, he would end up saving a life.
Fast forward to April 27 of this year, when Sue Mueller started having a severe headache, and she, too, was sensitive to light, and her neck was stuff. Her husband, Jeff, had heard Styler's commercial often on WCBS-FM 101.1 while driving in his car. First struck by the Scotch Plains connection -- both he and Styler are from there -- the symptoms Styler described also stuck with him. They were the same symptoms his wife was now experiencing.
Sue Mueller was rushed to Overlook, suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm, where Dr. Chapple and his team also saved her life. Now here they were, joined by WCBS and Channel 7 broadcaster Joe Nolan, sharing their connection, their experiences, their gratitude to Dr. Chapple and his colleagues at Overlook, as part of a round-table show that will air at a later date on HomeTowne TV. Chapple was present to share in the reunion, as well as his expertise in brain aneurysm symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
A few hours later, Styler and Mueller would share their message with the more than 1,000 assembled runners and guests at the annual Overlook 5K, then drive off together as the official starters of the race.
"I had an extreme headache, and I called my parents because I knew something wasn't right," Styler said. "I thought it was a migraine, which I never had. It was just one of those freak things."
For her part, Mueller said, "if Tim hadn't done the commercial, and Jeff hadn't heard it, I may not be here today." Jeff Mueller added, "I thought she had a pinched nerve in her neck. I have to thank Tim and his ad for saving my wife's life."
Nolan, who himself has suffered a heart attack and was treated at Overlook, echoed the importance of calling 9-1-1 at the first sign of distress, with Chapple noting that -- in addition to the responsive treatment provided by EMT's -- the hospital staff will get advance notice on the patient's condition and be even better prepared to treat the individual.
Sponsored by The Summit Running Company, The Overlook 5K benefited the Summit Police Athletic League and The Atlantic Neuroscience Institute Brain Aneurysm Fund.