Walk to raise awareness for Hydrocephalus

Hayley Gassick Features Editor

Walking for hydrocephalus, East instructors Rachel Carraher and Rob Carraher join others to raise awareness and funds for the cause. The Carrahers have participated in this walk twice now. “I am always happy to help with others and raise awareness for various things,” Rachel Carraher said.
Families who participated in the walk for hydrocephalus created their own T-shirt designs. The designs were judged by East instructors Rachel and Rob Carraher.

The October breeze hit them as they walked around Chalco Hills on October 2. Bellevue East science teacher Karin Donner and Hailee Schmit, her sister, organized and participated in a walk for hydrocephalus sponsored by the Hydrocephalus Association. There were also 100 participants from the Omaha Metropolitan area.

“I would encourage everyone to research and support conditions that aren’t as well known,” Schmit said. “The Hydrocephalus Association has made it their mission to research, spread awareness, and support families with hydrocephalus through creating the walks; I have made it my mission to do my part in Nebraska.” 

The Hydrocephalus Association is a non-profit organization focused on supporting, educating, and advocating for people with hydrocephalus as well as their families and the medical professionals who work with them. They fund research, hoping to find a cure for this disease and improve the lives of those affected by this condition. Their walks raise about 2 million dollars annually. 

“In 2018 and 2019 we walked in Des Moines, IA,” Schmit said. “In 2020, we brought a walk to Omaha, so this was our third annual Walk to End Hydrocephalus.”

According to UCLA Health, Hydrocephalus is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, it can result from a tumor, head injury, meningitis or hemorrhage. It is also something you can be born with. Fortunately hydrocephalus is only present in 2 out of every 1,000 births in the United States. Since this disease is so rare, not many participate in the walk that Donner and Schmit put together.

“Hydrocephalus is not very common, so it is tough to get people to register if they do not know someone personally,” Donner said.

Fortunately, some people do participate out of the kindness of their hearts. Senior Erica Nickish from Bellevue East High School was asked by her volleyball coach to participate and decided to since it meant so much to her coach. In total, she has participated twice throughout the years the walk has been held.

“My sister was born with this condition. It has impacted my life since I was a little baby, it has changed my view on neurological conditions, Donner said. “The walk means a lot to humans that have hydrocephalus or are affected by it.”

Like Nickish mentioned, the walk means a lot to humans that have hydrocephalus. It meant a lot to Donner and Schmit, Schmit was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 9 months old. 

“Hydrocephalus is grossly underfunded and it’s important to me that more people know about it and we get more funding,” Schmit said. 

Those interested in supporting the cause can go to the Hydrocephalus Association website to register and participate in this walk as the walk helps raise money, spreads awareness, and brings the community together.

“The joy that this walk brings to people is an incredible thing to be a part of,” Nickish said.