Approximately 1,500 Walkers Attend Long Island’s Sixth Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk to Fund Essential Research

WANTAGH, NY –Approximately 1,500 walkers helped raise money at Jones Beach State Park last weekend during Long Island’s Sixth Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk, hosted by the Brain Aneurysm Center of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI), along with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF).

The money will benefit North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF), supporting essential research that may directly benefit those affected and help to reduce the incidence of ruptured aneurysms. 

Brain aneurysm survivors, their families and friends attended the fun-filled event on Sept. 27. David Chalif, MD, and Avi Setton, MD, co-directors of the Brain Aneurysm Center, were among the many doctors, nurses and staff members from North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center in attendance to show their support of the many patients they have treated over the years.

At this year’s walk, four brain aneurysm survivors shared their stories in the hope of spreading awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm: Holly Hillgardner, 40, who splits her time between West Virginia and Forest Hills, NY; Rich “Big Daddy” Salgado, 49, of Franklin Square, NY; Eileen Walsh, 51, of Forest Hills, NY, and Sugar B. Wright, 55, of Jamaica, NY. All four patients were treated at North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center in Manhasset, NY.

Their stories offer important lessons: Ms. Hillgardner experienced one of the key symptoms of a brain aneurysm describing it as “the worst headache of my life.” She talked about how this life-threatening experience prompted her and her boyfriend Greg Payan of Forest Hills, NY, to tie the knot. They were married at City Hall on Friday, Sept. 26, the day before the walk.  Mr. Salgado talked about the importance of having a team of physicians, Dr. Chalif and Dr. Setton, who saved his life from a sudden aneurysm. Ms. Walsh described a “pulsing in her head” and sought medical attention. A cerebral angiogram revealed a brain aneurysm, which was closely watched over the years until recently, when it was discovered it had grown and required treatment.  Ms. Wright talked about her family history of brain aneurysms, including her mother, who was also treated this past year at North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center.

“One of the goals of this event is to increase awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm,” said Dr. Chalif.  “The symptoms can include severe headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, stiff neck or neck pain, pain above or behind the eye, and loss of sensation.” 

Dr. Chalif explains that there are two ways to treat an aneurysm safely and effectively, coiling and clipping:

• Clipping a brain aneurysm is a surgical procedure performed on both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.  In this procedure, the neurosurgeon performs a craniotomy through a small opening in the skull and once the aneurysm is located with the operating microscope, the neurosurgeon places a clip across the base of aneurysm, cutting off the blood flow to the aneurysm and allowing flow to remain normal through the adjacent branch vessels.  The aneurysm is thusly “de-fused.”

• Coiling a brain aneurysm is a minimally invasive endovascular procedure that requires the insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery in the leg, which is then navigated through the blood vessels into the brain, where the aneurysm is located.  Soft platinum coils are inserted through the catheter and deployed in the aneurysm.   The coils conform to the shape of the aneurysm, fill the sac and block blood flow to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

“By our brain aneurysm survivors sharing their stories at this year’s walk, they undoubtedly helped us spread awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and saved lives,” said Dr. Setton.  We are extremely grateful to all of them and they should be commended for their extraordinary courage and strength.”

About North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center:
North Shore-LIJ’s The Brain Aneurysm Center offers state-of-the-art diagnosis and multimodality treatments for brain aneurysms including endovascular coiling, micro-surgical clipping and a variety of adjunctive diagnostic techniques used to improve clinical outcomes for ruptured aneurysms. For more information about the Brain Aneurysm Center, call (516) 562-3070 or visit

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