Posts Tagged ‘joe niekro


JNF Elevates Brain Aneurysm Awareness This September

September is Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month and to help provide insight as well as spread awareness of this condition, The Joe Niekro Foundation™ is sharing daily facts about the brain and brain aneurysms, helpful tips for brain aneurysm survivors, as well as other important information through their social media channels which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.

The foundation is also offering a 25% discount on all of their JNF Jewels awareness bracelets and necklaces through the end of the month as well as co-hosting their first annual A Cerebral Affair gala in New York City on September 29th. In addition to their efforts in September, The Joe Niekro Foundation™ will be hosting their annual Knuckleball Gala in Houston, TX on October 20th and their annual Phoenix Knuckleball Gala on November 12th.

Funds raised at the events will go towards brain aneurysm, AVM and hemorrhagic stroke research and awareness supporting The Joe Niekro Foundation’s Patient Advocacy Program as well as the local medical communities.


Don’t be a Chicken!!!

In support of BrDon't be a Chickenain Aneurysm Awareness Month (September), The Joe Niekro Foundation (JNF) encourages you to “Don’t be a Chicken.”

Brave survivors of brain aneurysms/AVMs and hemorrhagic strokes will represent The Joe Niekro Foundation during a month of mini-challenges to bring awareness to the importance of early detection and “Getting Scanned.” Don’t be a Chicken is designed to increase awareness of these devastating conditions by asking survivors, caregivers, friends and families to share their stories in attempt to educate the public on the warning signs and risk factors of a brain aneurysm and what to do if you experience “the worst headache of your life.” Courageous survivors and family members from across the country have come together to educate others on the importance of early detection and will be sharing their stories on the RUChickenJNF You Tube Channel, as well as across the foundation’s social media networks.

Plan to see quite a bit of the campaign’s mascot, “Chuck the Chicken” as the JNF will encourage individuals to make Chuck their Facebook profile picture. Signs of Chuck the Chicken have been created for survivors and supporters to download from the foundation’s website and Facebook page, take their picture with and then upload to social media. Throughout the month, Chuck will introduce new elements of the campaign and new challenges for the followers to participate in.

The Joe Niekro Foundation was founded by Natalie Niekro, daughter of the late knuckleball pitcher Joe Niekro, who lost his life to a brain aneurysm in October 2006. The foundation is committed to supporting patients and aiding in the research, treatment and awareness of Brain Aneurysms, AVMs and Hemorrhagic Strokes. The goal of the JNF is to raise awareness about the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research.  They provide public education and advocacy, support for patients and families, and develop awareness programs and educational materials for hospitals, clinics and other institutions nationwide.

It is estimated that 6 million people in the US have a brain aneurysm (1 in 50 people). Every eight minutes an aneurysm ruptures; killing 50% of those victims within minutes. Of the remaining half, 50% will suffer a delayed death and those remaining will usually suffer severe brain deficits.

One in every 200-500 people has a brain AVM; a dangerous, complex tangle of abnormal arteries and veins. Often the AVM ruptures and bleeds, causing severe brain deficits and sometimes death. The peak age for AVM hemorrhage is the late teens (age 15-20), but an AVM can rupture at any age.

Hemorrhagic strokes make up about 15% of all strokes, resulting in nearly one quarter of all deaths caused by or related to strokes. Approximately 10-15% of people who have this type of stroke will die before reaching the hospital.

“It’s important that we bring awareness to these silent killers and educate the public on the warning signs and risk factors associated with them. Far too many innocent lives are taken each year as a result of one of these conditions and we are here to help educate others before its too late,” says JNF Founder, Natalie Niekro.

Don’t be a Chicken kicks off September 1st . Follow the results at #RUchicken and #JNF or visit

For more information on The Joe Niekro Foundation, contact Natalie Niekro –



Minnesota Twins to Host Brain Aneurysm Awareness Day

In honor of Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, The Minnesota Twins will pay tribute to one of baseball’s most renowned pitchers and former Minnesota Twins Knuckleballer, Joe Niekro by hosting Brain Aneurysm Awareness Day on September 4th. Niekro spent 22 years in the major leagues, notching 221 wins and still holds the record, with his brother Phil, of the most successful brother combination in major league history, with 539 wins. On October 27, 2006, Joe passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. Today, his legacy lives on through the Joe Niekro Foundation, committed to supporting patients and aiding in the research, treatment and awareness of Brain Aneurysms, AVMs and Hemorrhagic Strokes. The foundation strives to raise awareness about the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research.  JNF provides public education and advocacy, support for patients and families, and develops awareness programs and educational materials for hospitals, clinics and other institutions nationwide. Attending the day will be, Founder of The Joe Niekro Foundation, Joe’s daughter, Natalie, representatives from Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Stryker Neurovascular, along with several brain aneurysm/AVM/stroke survivors and family members. The group will be recognized during a special on-field ceremony before the game and will enjoy the game immediately following. An informational booth with literature on these conditions and the foundation will be set up on the main concourse during the game for anyone interested in stopping by.

If you would like to help or find out more about the foundation, visit

Natalie Niekro – Founder – The Joe Niekro Foundation – 602-318-1013


JNF Names Medical Humanitarian of the Year

diaz imageThe Joe Niekro Foundation is excited to announce Orlando Diaz, MD as this year’s Medical Humanitarian of the Year.

This award honors a Houston based medical professional for their ongoing research advancements and treatment studies of cerebral aneurysms, AVMs and/or hemorrhagic strokes, as well as their philanthropic endeavors.  Dr. Diaz will be presented with this year’s award at the 2014 Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life gala on September 20th at Hotel ZaZa in Houston, TX.

“We are thrilled to honor Dr. Diaz with this year’s award. His professional and volunteer services go above and beyond and his endeavors deserve the utmost recognition,” states JNF Founder, Natalie Niekro.


Dr. Diaz teaching while performing an interventional surgery

Dr. Diaz travels frequently to South America to perform pro-bono services and treat the poorest of a population who would not have otherwise received any treatment. Dr. Diaz states, “Each time we go in these missions, we see our rewards in the faces of our patients and their families.  Our trips also allow for the opportunity to teach other South American physicians the latest techniques that are utilized here in the United States.”

Dr. Orlando Diaz is board certified by the American Board of Radiology and holds a certificate of added qualifications in neuroradiology. Formerly an assistant professor in interventional radiology at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of interventional neuroradiology at Ben Taub General Hospital, he joined the medical staff at Houston Methodist Hospital in 2007 and provides advanced neuroradiology and interventional neuroradiology services at the Texas Medical Center, West Houston, Sugar Land and Willowbrook campuses. He is the program director of the Houston Methodist Hospital Interventional Neuroradiologist Fellowship within the Radiology Department. He is also a part of the staff at Houston Radiology Associates.

Dr. Diaz’ clinical expertise includes:

  • Endovascular treatment of aneurysms
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
  • Spinal dural fistulas
  • Facial AVMs
  • Vein of Galen malformations
  • Cerebral and spinal arteriography with 3D rotational imaging
  • Intracranial stenosis
  • Carotid stenting
  • Devascularization of tumors in preparation for surgery
  • Stroke therapy

Current research projects include the use of Penumbra coils in the treatment of aneurysms and other vascular diseases, the safety and effectiveness in the treatment of wide neck aneurysms with the Penumbra liberty stent, carotid artery stenting outcomes in the standard risk population for carotid endarterectomy – to evaluate safety and effectiveness of a new stenting system, the use of matrix and GDC coils for the treatment of intracranial saccular aneurysms, and Hydrocoil for endovascular aneurysm occlusion.

Congratulations Dr. Diaz and thank you for your incredible work within the neurointerventional sciences.  We look forward to honoring you on September 20th at The Knuckle Ball.






Natalie Niekro



Chairman, Natalie Niekro, of the 5th Annual Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life, on September 20th, at Hotel Zaza, is pleased to announce some of this year’s participating athletes who will be honoring her father and former Houston Astros pitcher, Joe Niekro. Over 40 MLB, NFL and NBA athletes will be attending and mingling with the guests.  To name a few, will be:

  •      Nolan Ryan (Hall of Fame Inductee – 1999) – MLB Pitcher – New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers (1966-1993)
  •      Bert Campaneris – MLB Shortstop – Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, California Angels, New York Yankees (1964-1983)
  •      JR Richard – MLB Pitcher – Houston Astros (1971-1980)
  •      Dave Bergman – MLB 1st Baseman – New York Yankees, Houston Astros, SF Giants and Detroit Tigers (1975-1992)
  •      Bill Dawley –   MLB Pitcher – Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics (1983-1989)
  •      Jeff DeWillis – MLB Pitcher – Toronto Blue Jays (1987)
  •      Jon Warden – MLB Pitcher – Detroit Tigers (1968)
  •      John Egan – NBA Point Guard – Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Baltimore Bullets, LA Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets (1961-1972), NBA Coach – Houston Rockets (1973-1976)
  •      Chester Pitts – NFL Offensive Guard – Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks (2002-2011)

Since Joe Niekro’s tragic and sudden death in 2006, as a result of a brain aneurysm, his daughter, Natalie established The Joe Niekro Foundation, committed to aiding in the research and treatment of brain aneurysms, AVM’s and hemorrhagic strokes.  The foundation strives to raise awareness about the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research.  TJNF provides public education and advocacy, support for patients and families, and develops awareness programs and educational materials for hospitals, clinics and other institutions nationwide.

Because of her father’s love for the Houston Astros and the city of Houston, it is only fitting that The Knuckle Ball be held in the city that gave the Niekro family their greatest memories. The evening, emceed by KHOU personality and brain aneurysm survivor, Deborah Duncan, features a festive reception, silent auction, formal dinner, LIVE auction and the opportunity to mingle with some of sports greatest legends.

Bobby Tudor will be honored as the Joe Niekro Humanitarian of the Year for his outstanding commitment and contributions to the Houston community.  A portion of the funds from the event will be granted in the name of Bobby Tudor, to a Houston neurological department of his choice.

As many as one in fifty Americans will develop a cerebral aneurysm or AVM; 10-15% of these individuals will die before reaching the hospital and over 50% will die within the first thirty days after rupture. Of those who survive, over half suffer permanent neurological deficit. For more info, visit


A Year of Reflection and Thanks!

Tonight we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome a new year of adventure, excitement, challenges, happiness and growth.  Before the ball drops, we wanted to take a few moments to thank all those that helped make this year our best yet.

To our amazing Board of Directors –   Your commitment and dedication to our mission is undeniable and we are truly blessed to have each and every one of you helping bring us to greatness.  The countless hours and voluntary time is more than exceptional and you are all awesome!

To our outstanding Medical Advisory Board – Your willingness to offer support to patients, families and individuals looking for answers is greatly appreciated.  Having each and every one of you on our advisory board will only continue to validate the knowledge and backing we have among us.

To our Patient Advocate Committee – There are no words to describe my appreciation for what you have developed and are continuing to grow across the globe.  Your passion and commitment is genuine and we are so lucky to have you in our corner.  Your empathy for survivors and families warms the heart and we thank you for helping us reach those looking for support, guidance and a friend to help them in their road of recovery.

To our Facebook Admins – What you have done with our Aneurysm/AVM Facebook Support Page and our Parents of Brain Aneurysm/AVM Children’s Support Page is magnificent.  It is so exciting to watch the daily growth of our groups and see the bonds forming among all those who have finally found a group they can call “home.”

To our Support Group Leaders – Thank you for your commitment to lead our monthly support group chapter meetings.  Your continued passion to help others and bring people together who need support is vital to our growth and outreach.

To our Fans – You have exceeded our expectations of growth and we thank you for continuing to follow us, share our comments with others and support what we are doing.

To our Survivors – You are the reason we are here!  We fight each day to make a difference and offer the support that is critical to your recovery.  Your perserverance is infectious and we applaud you for your courage, strength and dedication.

To our Partners – Thank you for having faith in our mission.  The relationships we have formed through the years are critical and we are so grateful for your collaborative efforts in helping us reach the masses.

To our Supporters – Without you, none of this is possible.  Thank you for your continued support and for recognizing the importance of brain aneurysm research and awareness.  Your commitment to our cause allows us to reach more people, fund more research, provide daily support and truly make a difference.

To everyone – THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE JOE NIEKRO FOUNDATION WHAT IT HAS BECOME!  2014 is going to be one amazing year, so look out and get ready!

We wish all of you a very safe and Happy New Year and a blessed 2014.


It Happens Every Year

I remember writing a poem for my Dad when I was seven years old called “It Happens Every Spring.”  It was about the how much I was going to miss him come March because I knew that was the time of year when he would be leaving for Spring Training.  It was the start of the baseball season and the start of his seven month long time on the road.  Seven months seemed like eternity to me then and I would anxiously await the times when he would fly home on those few and far between off-days.  Knowing he would likely only get to spend 16 hours (at the most) with our family, he would still make the trip across country to tuck my brother and I into bed or cook us breakfast when we woke up.  I treasure those days and never had imagined those precious times would be some of my greatest memories.

Today marks seven years since I lost my father to a brain aneurysm  and I would give anything to have him back, even just for one moment.  Little did I know that the seven months we would go without being with Dad was nothing compared to a lifetime of him gone forever.  My vision of him on this day seven years ago is as clear as yesterday and I was just waiting for him to hop out of that hospital bed, pull the tubes off himself and say “Lets get out of here.”  But that moment never came.  Instead we watched as the doctors pulled the tubes from him, turned off the machines that were keeping his lifeless body breathing and saw him peacefully leave this world.

I thank God everyday for the time that I had with my father – for the laughs, the tears, the good times and even the bad – because every one of those moments are ones I will treasure for ever.  They were times that I was able to share with one of the greatest human beings I had ever met and a man that is now by guardian angel.  I love you Dad and miss you every day!

Here is the poem that I wrote for him when I was 7 – hope you enjoy it.


Spring Training is here and baseball is starting,

which means that my Dad and I will be parting.

His baseball career is his dream-come-true

But the time we’re apart makes me so sad and blue.

Though Winter’s a memory and flowers now bloom,

I find that my heart is filled with some gloom.

While others are planning their parties and things

I only can think of what Spring to me brings.

Our time together was great but now it must end

For the Astros have called on my very best friend.

Dad’s a wonderful pitcher…three strikes and you’re out

I sit by the television and cheer and shout.

He loves his job and I’m thankful for that

Though my heart skips a beat with every crack of the bat.

So once again I’ll adjust to being without him,

Although every second I’ll be thinking about him.



July 2018
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