An event to bring awareness to brain aneurysms and honor the life of a Braham resident will be held June 1 as part of Braham Appreciation Day.

The Appreciation for Life event will be the first fundraising event in Minnesota to benefit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, according to Kendall Stasinos, of Callanan & Klein Communications Inc.

The event will be held June 1 at the Braham Elementary School, with registration at 9 a.m. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. and the run will begin at 10:15 a.m. There is a $20 registration fee to participate, with free admission for children under 12. Online registration is available up to 11 a.m. May 30. Registrations will also be accepted the day of the event.

Holly Giffrow, one of the local coordinators of the event, explained the event is being held to honor Mary Thom, who passed away Aug. 31, 2012, at the age of 41 due to a brain aneurysm, and to raise awareness about the disease.

“Mary was a caretaker,” Giffrow said. “She was always doing for others. Mary has been one of my best friends for 27 years and was like the sister I never had. She had a lot of close friends. Whether you knew her for 27 years, 10 years or even two years, she was one of those types of girls that you connected with very easily. She also was a huge family girl, having very strong bonds with her family — they truly were her world.”

Stasinos explained the Brain Aneurysm Foundation is the nation’s only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to providing critical awareness, education, support and research funding to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysms. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation, established in Boston in 1994, has become the world’s leading source of private funding of brain aneurysm research.

“The foundation’s mission is to provide support and educational materials to the medical community, the newly diagnosed, survivors, family members, friends and the general public regarding the facts, treatment options, and recovery process for brain aneurysms,” Stasinos said. “People should support the foundation because we provide support and educational materials to all regarding the facts, treatment options and recovery process for brain aneurysms.”

Thom’s parents, Paul and Sharon Nyman, said they are dealing with the loss of their daughter the best they can.

“We lost our beautiful daughter, wife and mother in August to a quiet enemy, a brain aneurysm,” the Nymans said. “We had heard of it before, but never thought it would strike our family. It took the family hero and sunshine from us.”

In 2003, Thom received her paraprofessional certification and began working at the Braham Elementary School. She later transitioned to her position as the Health Services secretary.

“During these last eight months, we have had our good times and our bad times,” the Nymans said. “Our family has had a wonderful support group. Mary’s friends from the Braham schools and her lifelong friends have all been great.”

Thom’s husband, Dave, and her daughter, Alyssa, have been surrounding themselves with family and friends.

“Alyssa has had support from her family, teachers and especially her school friends,” the Nymans said. “We have found that there has been other families in Braham that have gone through this loss as well because of this quiet enemy. We encourage everyone to come out and support the walk/run to raise awareness about this disease.”

Giffrow said Thom’s death caused her to research brain aneurysms.

“Ever since Mary passed away, I have been researching brain aneurysms, and after seeing all the events being held across the country to help bring awareness to this cause, I was inspired,” Giffrow said. “There have been so many people in our surrounding towns that have been affected by this and have suffered their own loss. I started talking to people about it, and it’s surprising how many people know someone who knows someone that this has happened to as well. It’s also important to mention the day of the event will bring some people that are survivors of brain aneurysms to also make this a celebration.”

Giffrow said besides honoring Thom, the event is about raising awareness.

“We just don’t hear people talking about aneurysms,” Giffrow said. “How can we reduce the incidence of brain aneurysm ruptures and bring critical awareness, education, and support? The Brain Aneurysm Foundation works with doctors across the country funding research that is helping them in finding procedures for early detection of brain aneurysm.”

Giffrow would like to extend an appreciation to her fellow committee members Julie Giffrow, Karie Nordby, Sarah Peterson, Sarah Ruther and Laura Constenius for their efforts.

“This is a public event and we welcome anyone to attend,” Stasinos said. “Brain aneurysms go undetected too often, so we are encouraging people to come out and support those who have been affected and to become educated on signs and symptoms of brain aneurysms.”

For more information about the Brain Aneurysm Foundation visit

To register for the June 1 event, visit or email Holly Giffrow at [email protected]

Understanding: Brain Aneurysm Statistics and Facts

• An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people.

• The annual rate of rupture is approximately eight per 100,000 people. About 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture.

• There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes.

• Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Of those who survive, about 66 percent suffer some permanent neurological deficit.

• Approximately 15 percent of patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage die before reaching the hospital. Most of the deaths from subarachnoid hemorrhage are due to rapid and massive brain injury from the initial bleeding which is not correctable by medical and surgical interventions.

• Four out of seven people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities.

• Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35 to 60, but can occur in children as well.

• The median age when aneurysmal hemorrhagic stroke occurs is 50 years old and there are typically no warning signs. Most aneurysms develop after the age of 40.

• There are almost 500,000 deaths worldwide each year caused by brain aneurysms and half the victims are younger than 50.

Understanding: Warning signs and symptoms

Unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic. These aneurysms are typically small in size, usually less than one half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms.

Any individual experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, regardless of age, should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.

• Localized headache

• Dilated pupils

• Blurred or double vision

• Pain above and behind eye

• Weakness and numbness

• Difficulty speaking

Information provided by the  Brain Aneurysm Foundation