Written by Mineola American Staff Saturday, 14 December 2013 00:00
Mineola High School senior, Jennifer Vasek and her mother have suffered for years from a rare disorder called Chiari malformation. Both have endured several brain surgeries yet still suffer from Chiari symptoms on a daily basis. They include headaches, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and loss of balance. Chiari malformations occur when the base of the brain protrudes through the lower skull and touches the upper part of the spinal cord, creating numerous neurological symptoms. The only accurate way to identify Chiari is with an MRI of the neck.
In their senior year at Mineola High School, students must complete a community service project. For her project, Vasek, a high honor roll student, organized a fund raiser for The American Syringomyelia and Chiari Alliance Project, a nonprofit organization focused on Chiari research. With absolutely no experience with this kind of undertaking, Vasek planned the event and took complete control every step of the way.
For her first goal, to secure a venue, Vasek contacted Tom Capece of the New Hyde Park Elks Lodge. Impressed by her story, Capece donated the Elks Lodge and food to the fundraiser. In addition, other vendors contributed raffle prizes, including Peter Andrews, Walk Street Tavern of New Hyde Park, Sedona Court Hair Salon, Cleo Nails and Spa, Royal Waste, Color Bar Hair Studio, Vetro Restaurant of Howard Beach, Evolution Pilates and Bar Method Roslyn.
Mineola High School Principal Ed Escobar and staff members Karen Cordani, Anne McAree, Mary McGuiness, Whittney Smith, Tara McDonnell and Stacey Rosenblatt, all provided support to Vasek during her high school years.