Donate to Aneurysm Research

Donate to Aneurysm Research

Life sometimes takes you down a path you didn’t plan. Just when you think you know where you’re headed, that’s usually when life throws you the pitch you weren’t prepared for. My curve ball came October 26, 2006, just four weeks before the fairytale wedding I had dreamed of since I was a little girl would take place. Just the evening before, my father and I had spent hours on the phone discussing all the details, including the very song that would play as he was walking me down the aisle. I had no idea that my life was about to change forever.

At 10:13 the following morning, I was getting ready for a huge presentation at work when I received a call from my brother in Florida. When I answered the phone, he barely could get the words out to tell me that something bad had happened to Dad. He wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, but whatever it was had landed him on life support and he wasn’t expected to make it through the night.

Within seconds I had gathered my computer bag, purse and car keys, headed straight for the airport where I bought the next ticket to Florida. I didn’t have a suitcase, no extra clothes, not even a toothbrush – whatever I needed, I would buy when I go there. The only thing that mattered was getting to Dad as fast as I could. The flight to Florida seemed like eternity and it wasn’t until I arrived to the hospital that we discovered Dad had experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm, a blood vessel in his brain had burst, leaving him unresponsive, brain dead, with no chance of recovery. Within hours, I was handed my father’s death certificate and leaving the hospital trying to make sense of what had just happened.

As weeks went by, emotions cycled and reality set it, I wanted to know all I could of the enemy that took my father’s life, so I researched every medical journal I could get my hands on. Not only did I find there was a lack of funding for aneurysm research, but also discovered that aneurysms effect as many as 1 in 50 Americans. Innocent men, women and even children fall victim to this fatal disease.  It was then that I knew I had to do something to bring awareness to this devastating condition and help the patients and families who are struggling just as I had.  This was the beginning to the greatest venture of my life.  The Joe Niekro Foundation was established to support patients and aid in the research, treatment and awareness of Brain AneurysmsAVMs and Hemorrhagic Strokes.

This journey has been one of the greatest of my life – it has allowed the legacy of my father to live on forever, while helping thousands of patients and families in the process. Keeping Dad’s legacy alive is part of the magic that makes this foundation not only successful, but undeniably unique. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss the hero in my life, but all I have to do is look to my left because I know that Dad is right beside me every step of the way. His will is what has given me the strength, determination and passion to keep going and continuing to impact the lives of others. Whether you are a patient, family member, friend or caregiver, remember this…WE ARE ALL SURVIVORS!

Together we have built a one-of-a-kind patient advocacy program that educates communities about the risk factorscauses and treatments of these conditions, while providing a safe haven for patients and caregivers to seek support and comfort.  And through our persistent fundraising efforts, we have helped fund critical research that is paving the way for neurological advancements in the future.

why-we-exist

In life there are no guarantees, but what we do have is the power to make the life we have one of significance.  I wasn’t able to do anything to save my father’s life, but I certainly can fight each and every day to help save the lives of others.  By offering everything from words or wisdom to a shoulder to cry on, I have thrown back the curve ball and am committed to changing the course of this disease.  I have chosen to take the challenges I’ve been given, turn them into something positive and allow that strength to carry me through. And that is how we all should live – forever creating a legacy we want others to remember us by.

Welcome to the JNF Family!


6 Responses to “The Reason”


  1. 1 Chris Coppens
    March 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I live in Arizona, originally from Detroit and had a brain aneurysm on April 12, 2003. I was preparing breakfast and all of a sudden had a horrible, horrible headache. Then I passed out. Thankfully I was not alone. A friend just happened to stop by to say hello. The ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital where a coiling procedure was performed. I am alive today through the grace of God and this procedure and the competent doctors who performed it. I was very young when living in Detroit when one day I was listening to a Tiger/Yankee game where Joe was pitching a no hitter. It was the 9th inning with two outs and Horace Clark came up to bat. He had two strikes on him when he hit a slow ground ball to the 2nd baseman. The second baseman fielded the ball cleanly but when he threw it to first base, Horace Clark beat the throw, breaking up the no hitter. The game ended up a one-hitter. I wanted Joe to get the no hitter so badly. I was born in Detroit and there is no bigger fan in Michigan than I. I will always remember Joe and Phil Niekro.

  2. July 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I live in Arizona, originally from Detroit and had a brain aneurysm on April 12, 2003. I was preparing breakfast and all of a sudden had a horrible, horrible headache. Then I passed out. Thankfully I was not alone. A friend just happened to stop by to say hello. The ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital where a coiling procedure was performed. I am alive today through the grace of God and this procedure and the competent doctors who performed it. I was very young when living in Detroit when one day I was listening to a Tiger/Yankee game where Joe was pitching a no hitter. It was the 9th inning with two outs and Horace Clark came up to bat. He had two strikes on him when he hit a slow ground ball to the 2nd baseman. The second baseman fielded the ball cleanly but when he threw it to first base, Horace Clark beat the throw, breaking up the no hitter. The game ended up a one-hitter. I wanted Joe to get the no hitter so badly. I was born in Detroit and there is no bigger fan in Michigan than I. I will always remember Joe and Phil Niekro.
    +1

  3. 3 Barbara Ann Chops
    July 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I was very shocked to hear of Joe’s passing. He had still so many years to offer to his family and friends. I remember the one hitter game at Tiger Stadium, my family and I were there watching. He was kind enough to provide us (cousins) with tickets to several games when he played for Detroit. I can’t imagine how he felt as we were heart broken for him when Clark beat the throw. Still, I remember his great sense of humor, dry as it was. I wish Natalie the best and success in her endeavors to the Joe Niekro Foundation. I will pass this website to the rest of the family here in the Detroit area.

  4. 4 Chassidy dunlap
    March 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    i got to st stephens catholic school with jj and i didnt know unti a couple months ago about his dad i feel so bad all jj wants to do is play baseball

  5. October 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I just suffered an aneurysm on September 23rd of this year, 2012. I want to personally Thank You from the bottom of my heart for all of the research and awareness this site offers. I hope to be able to purchase a shirt soon. My own medical bills and regular bills are stacking, but I want to support this cause.


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