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For Sarah!

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Lisa Salberg Find out more about Lisa Salberg
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  • For Sarah!

    March 6, 2005 Sunday
    Correction Appended
    SECOND EDITION

    SECTION: NORTHEAST TARRANT; Pg. 1R

    LENGTH: 695 words

    HEADLINE: In Sarah's name

    BYLINE: KATHY A. GOOLSBY, Staff Writer

    DATELINE: NORTH RICHLAND HILLS

    BODY:

    Their children had been friends since first grade.

    But Laura Friend and Reesa Michalak didn't meet until last July after one of
    those children, 12-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Friend, collapsed and died at a
    local water park.

    Now the two North Richland Hills mothers are working to ensure Sarah is not
    forgotten by organizing a 5K walk/run in her memory. They also hope the May 14
    event will raise awareness about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart
    problem that caused Sarah's death.

    It's often called the silent killer.

    "Sarah was happy, healthy and looked 100 percent perfect with no symptoms,
    and inside lurked this horrible disease," said Ms. Friend, 40.

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is characterized by a thickening of the
    heart muscle that cuts off blood flow, especially after strenuous exercise.

    Sarah was taking a lifeguard class at NRH2O on July 14. She stayed after
    class to play on some of the water rides with a friend.

    Sarah had just exited the wave pool and was climbing a double flight of
    stairs when she collapsed. She never regained consciousness and died within
    hours.

    "There are three signs of HCM, which she didn't have: heart palpitations,
    shortness of breath and fainting," Ms. Friend said. "But a lot of times your
    first sign is sudden death."

    Ms. Michalak was shocked to read about Sarah's death. She was more surprised
    when her son, Brady, told her that Sarah was his friend from Smithfield Middle
    School. He asked to take a rose to Sarah's funeral, and his mother accompanied
    him.

    "I didn't know Sarah, but it was a huge shock for me to sit there and realize
    this could have been my child," Ms. Michalak said. "I wanted to do something for
    the family, something that might make a difference in my son's life and others'
    lives."

    Ms. Michalak had participated in fund-raising runs since the '80s and thought
    an annual run could honor Sarah, increase HCM awareness and raise money for
    research and education.

    "At the same time, I was thinking, 'I don't want Sarah to be forgotten,'" Ms.
    Friend said. "I'm usually a follower. I'm not one to start something up, but
    Reesa called and said she was going to start this walk, and I said, 'Could I
    help?'"

    Another mother, Kate Sheehy, has joined them and is recruiting sponsors.
    Albertsons, Liberty Bank, North Hills Hospital and Bally Total Fitness have
    agreed to help with donations or promotion.

    Ms. Friend estimates they need about $6,000 to cover expenses, including
    hiring a timer so the event is certified by USA Track & Field.

    Proceeds will be donated to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association,
    based in New Jersey. The nonprofit group was started in 1995 shortly after its
    founder's 36-year-old sister died of HCM.

    "Our goal has been and remains to provide education, to be an advocacy group
    for people with HCM, and to work with researchers for better treatments," said
    founder Lisa Salberg, who was diagnosed as having HCM at age 12.

    Sharon Bates of Phoenix also raises money for HCM. Her son, Anthony, was 20
    when he died of the disease after a football practice at Kansas State University
    in July 2000.

    Ms. Bates sends part of the funds she raises to the national organization and
    uses the remainder to provide free cardiac screenings in Arizona and Kansas. Her
    hope is that doctors can discover HCM early and prevent more unexpected deaths.

    "My new life's work is to improve the process for health care for our
    children," she said. "It's important for myself and Laura to bang our drum as
    long as we can and as loud as we can to save the next child."

    Looking back, Ms. Friend said her grandmother's heart condition probably was
    HCM. Her husband, Jon, also has heart problems on his side of the family, so
    they are closely watching daughter Katherine, 10. Tests, however, show she has
    no signs of HCM.

    Ms. Friend finds some comfort in doing something positive through the
    walk/run, which she hopes will be an annual event.

    "Sarah was my best friend," she said. "I never had the chance to fight for
    Sarah, but now I'm able to fight for her cause, and that makes me feel like I'm
    taking care of Sarah. And if we can save one child, it's worth it."
    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

  • #2
    Run spotlights heart problem that killed girl Mom helps plan event
    after 12-year-old collapsed at water park

    BYLINE: KATHY A. GOOLSBY, Northeast Tarrant Bureau

    BODY:

    Their children had been friends since first grade.

    But Laura Friend and Reesa Michalak didn't meet until July after one of those
    children, 12-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Friend, collapsed at a local water park
    and died.

    Now the two North Richland Hills mothers are working to ensure that Sarah is
    not forgotten by organizing a 5K walk/run in her memory. They also hope the May
    14 event will raise awareness about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart
    problem that caused Sarah's death.

    It's often called the silent killer.

    "Sarah was happy, healthy and looked 100 percent perfect with no symptoms,
    and inside lurked this horrible disease," said Ms. Friend, 40.

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is characterized by a thickening of the
    heart muscle that cuts off blood flow, especially after strenuous exercise.

    Sarah was taking a lifeguard class at NRH2O on July 14. She stayed after
    class to play on the water rides with a friend.

    Sarah had just exited the wave pool and was climbing a double flight of
    stairs when she collapsed. She never regained consciousness and died within
    hours.

    "There are three signs of HCM, which she didn't have: heart palpitations,
    shortness of breath and fainting," said Ms. Friend. "But a lot of times your
    first sign is sudden death."

    Ms. Michalak was shocked to read about Sarah's death. She was more surprised
    when her son, Brady, told her that Sarah was his friend from Smithfield Middle
    School. He asked to take a rose to Sarah's funeral, and his mother accompanied
    him.

    "I didn't know Sarah, but it was a huge shock for me to sit there and realize
    this could have been my child," Ms. Michalak said. "I wanted to do something for
    the family, something that might make a difference in my son's life and others'
    lives."

    She had participated in fund-raising runs since the 1980s and thought an
    annual run could honor Sarah, increase HCM awareness and raise money for
    research and education.

    "At the same time, I was thinking, 'I don't want Sarah to be forgotten,'" Ms.
    Friend said. "I'm usually a follower. I'm not one to start something up, but
    Reesa called and said she was going to start this walk, and I said, 'Could I
    help?'"

    Another mother, Kate Sheehy, has joined them and is recruiting sponsors.
    Albertson's, Liberty Bank, North Hills Hospital and Bally Total Fitness have
    agreed to help with donations or promotion.

    Ms. Friend estimates that they need about $6,000 to cover expenses, including
    hiring a timer so the event is certified by USA Track & Field.

    Proceeds will be donated to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association,
    based in New Jersey. The nonprofit group was started in 1995 shortly after its
    founder's 36-year-old sister died of HCM.

    "Our goal has been and remains to provide education, to be an advocacy group
    for people with HCM, and to work with researchers for better treatments," said
    founder Lisa Salberg, who was diagnosed with HCM at age 12.

    Sharon Bates of Phoenix also raises money for HCM. Her son, Anthony Bates,
    was 20 when he died of the disease after football practice at Kansas State
    University in July 2000.

    Ms. Bates sends part of the funds she raises to the national organization and
    uses the remainder to provide free cardiac screenings in Arizona and Kansas. Her
    hope is that doctors can diagnose HCM early and prevent more unexpected deaths.

    "My new life's work is to improve the process for health care for our
    children," she said. "It's important for myself and Laura to bang our drum as
    long as we can and as loud as we can to save the next child."

    Looking back, Ms. Friend said her grandmother's heart condition probably was
    HCM. Her husband, Jon Friend, also has heart problems on his side of the family,
    so they are closely watching daughter Katherine, 10. Tests, however, show she
    has no signs of HCM.

    Ms. Friend finds some comfort in doing something positive through the
    walk/run, which she hopes will be an annual event.

    "Sarah was my best friend," she said. "I never had the chance to fight for
    Sarah, but now I'm able to fight for her cause, and that makes me feel like I'm
    taking care of Sarah. And if we can save one child, it's worth it."

    This story also appears in the Northeast Tarrant Morning News.

    E-mail [email protected]

    ABOUT THE DISEASE

    What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a genetic disease characterized by a
    thickening of the heart muscle wall, which impedes blood flow. Recent studies
    estimate that between 1 in 500 and 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S. have the
    disease.

    What are its symptoms?

    Some patients may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, heart
    palpitations (an extra or missed heart beat), lightheadedness and fainting.

    How is HCM diagnosed?

    An echocardiogram, or sonogram scan, of the heart is the principal diagnostic
    test. A cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) also can detect HCM. Less
    reliable is an electrocardiogram, or ECG/EKG, which may pick up abnormalities
    associated with other heart conditions and miss those related to HCM.

    What are the treatment options?

    Options include a variety of drugs, implantable defibrillators, surgery,
    pacemakers and heart transplants. A new and still-experimental treatment,
    alcohol septal ablation, involves injecting an alcohol solution that thins the
    thickened muscle by destroying part of the wall.

    Resources: For information, visit www.mplsheart.com.

    SOURCE: Dr. Barry Maron, program director, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center
    at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

    EVENT INFORMATION

    What: Sarah Elizabeth Friend 5K Run/Walk

    When: 8 a.m. May 14

    Where: Smithfield Middle School, 8400 Main St., North Richland Hills

    Cost: $15 early entry fee; $12 each for groups of five or more

    To enter: Sign up online at www.polanskyrunning.com or pick up a brochure at
    Bally Total Fitness in Hurst, Liberty Bank in North Richland Hills and Bedford,
    Luke's Locker in Colleyville or North Richland Hills Recreation Center.

    Information: 817-581-2011

    CORRECTION-DATE: March 8 2005

    CORRECTION:

    An article in Sunday's Metro section about a 5K run/walk in honor of Sarah
    Elizabeth Friend incorrectly listed her father's first name as Jon. His name is
    Luther Friend.
    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

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