Jones Beach State Park is not just a beach, concession and fun place to go for the summer. It is also home to many causes that host walks and runs to raise money for cancer, heart disease and mental illness just to name a few. This September will mark the 10th anniversary for Long Island’s Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk. The walk, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22, is hosted by the Brain Aneurysm Center at Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute, along with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF). All proceeds from the walk will benefit both organizations, which will help support essential research.
Dr. David Chalif is director of Northwell Health’s Brain Aneurysm Center as well as being Northwell Health’s chief of vascular neurosurgery. He recently received the Physician Champion Award from the award due to his devotion to secure grants as well as being
an advocate and educator for this cause.
“This is a very special year for us, celebrating the walk’s 10 year anniversary,” said Chalif. “The walk has grown steadily each year and has raised more than $615,000 over this period thanks to hundreds of participants.”
A main goal of this annual event is to increase awareness with regards to the warning signs of a brain aneurysm. Symptoms can comprise of a severe headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, stiff neck or neck pain as well as pain above or behind the eye and loss of sensation.
This year, two of the speakers are survivors from Long Island. Steve Calzolano, 59, of Levittown, is a retired firefighter who was on a ladder doing routine cleaning of his gutters when he felt lightheaded and almost fell off the ladder. His wife, along with a neighbor, prevented him from a serious fall and immediately called 911. Calzolano was transported to Plainview Northwell Hospital where after undergoing a CT scan he was rushed to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset as the test reported a ruptured brain aneurysm.
“It was the worst headache of my life,” said Calzolano, which is one of the many signs of a brain aneurysm.
Chalif performed a craniotomy and then clipped the aneurysm, cutting off the blood flow to the artery. Calzolano has no neurological deficits from his life saving surgery. In May, he retired from the FDNY and is looking forward to pursue his two passions of boating and golfing.
The second speaker is Ms. Mallardi, who in January was a passenger in her car with her husband when out of nowhere she experienced a shooting pain she described as a “lightning bolt” on the back of her head. The pain increased so her husband took her to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset where a MRA revealed a brain aneurysm. Mallardi received an endovascular treatment with coils and a stent, which is another, more minimally invasive treatment of a brain aneurysm.
“You have to be thankful for every day because you don’t know what your next day will bring,” said Mallardi. “If you think there is something wrong with your body, it is important to get it checked out.”
“Due to the decisive actions of Calzolano’s wife and neighbor and Mallardi’s husband seeking immediate medical attention, their lives were saved,” said Chalif. “By sharing their stories at our walk this year, they will undoubtedly help us spread awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm. We are extremely grateful to both of them and they should be commended for their extraordinary courage and strength.”
On a personal note, my husband, Joseph, began to experience several debilitating headaches a few years ago. We were recommended to see Dr. Chalif by our primary doctor, who after reviewing the results of the MRA revealed to us Joseph had a small aneurysm. Joseph’s father had multiple aneurysms at around the same age and family history also plays an important factor in treatment. After monitoring him for several years and with Joseph’s symptoms worsening, Dr. Chalif performed a craniotomy clipping the aneurysm in June, 2017. He literally saved my husband’s life. Because of his remarkable surgical skills, I am happy to report that Joseph is doing well and has received a clean bill of health from Dr. Chalif and his wonderful nurse practitioner, Nicole Salant, who helps run the awareness walk with the doctor.
Registration for the walk begins at 8:30 a.m. at Jones Beach State Park, Field 5, 1000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, NY. The start time is 10 a.m. and the event is held rain or shine. The fee for the walk is $30, which includes the cost of parking and snacks. T-shirts will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.
To register, visit give.bafound.org/2018LongIsland.