SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Six years ago, South Plainfield High School Girls’ Soccer Coach Danielle Chiera’s parents found her fallen out of bed and unresponsive at 3:00 in the morning and rushed her to the first of three hospitals she would see in the next 24 hours. At the time, they had no idea that an aneurysm in Danielle’s brain had ruptured and that she would undergo emergency surgery to insert a titanium clip into her brain to stop the bleeding.
Nor would they know that six years later the girls on Danielle’s soccer team would be marking an annual tradition by heading to Jones Beach, New York to support their daughter by participating in the annual Brain Aneurysm Walk for Awareness.
On Saturday, the girls and their coaches head to the event, which is now in its fifth year. They’ve each pledged money and will be walking to raise awareness about the dangers of what could have been a deadly ordeal for their coach.
Danielle considers herself lucky. She was able to get to a hospital and receive proper care. But it could have been different for the then-23-year-old who was on a soccer scholarship to Division One Central Connecticut University only a year earlier. “I was in good health and physical shape when this happened,” she said. “I had no problems other than a horrible headache that day.”
In addition to the surgery for the aneurysm, Danielle had to deal with a pulmonary embolism and trachea surgery, among other health problems. But today she is fully recovered, with none of the physical or mental limitations that often accompany her surgery.
“I am very lucky to be here today and with no physical or mental disabilities,” said Danielle when describing her recovery.
The walk is sponsored by The North Shore-LIJ Health System Brain Aneurysm Center, the Cushing Neuroscience Institute and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Proceeds go to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and to the Brain Aneurysm Center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, where they will be used for aneurysm education, research and clinical care.