Woman runs race in honor of her mom

Jackie Stackhouse, left, poses with her father, Ken, and mother, Diane.

ANDOVER — Thirteen years ago, Jackie Stackhouse's life changed forever.

While her mother, Diane Stackhouse, was driving home from picking up the family's Thanksgiving turkey at a local farm, she suffered a brain aneurysm — a ruptured blood vessel.

Jackie was waiting for a ride home from cheerleading practice when her high school principal gave her some bad news. Her mom wasn't answering phone calls because she had been in "an accident."

Jackie's uncle picked her up from practice and took her to a hospital, where she would find her dad, Ken, and the rest of her family members.

After Diane spent eight hours in surgery, her doctor told the family that while she would live, she would likely never recover from the aneurysm she suffered on that November day in 2006.

"We were devastated, confused, hurt and scared," Jackie said. Her mother had been perfectly healthy before that day — able to do whatever she wanted in and outside of their Andover home.

To their despair, the family discovered the doctor's words would become true. Diane, now 73, is completely paralyzed, non-verbal and seemingly in a daze most of the time.

Jackie and her family's lives changed dramatically when she was 16 years old, and now she is sharing their story.

On Aug. 18, Jackie, who is now 29 and lives in Medford, ran 7.2 miles in honor of her mother at the annual Falmouth Road Race, which her longtime friend Allie Lang convinced her to run. As a part of Team BAF, Jackie raised nearly $5,500 for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

The outpouring of financial support was unexpected for Jackie, who said she raised about $5,000 in just two days. She recalled people she had not spoken to since high school sending her kind words, accompanied by generous donations.

Though Diane was not able to attend the race because the family has difficulty moving her from their home in Andover, Ken kept her updated as he tracked their daughter's running pace and time on a smart phone application.

Jackie has learned to adjust to her mother's new lifestyle, which is limited and consists of long days spent mostly in bed at home.

"My mom was so full of life. She was the classic mom," Jackie said. "She did everything. She was a very outgoing, energetic woman. This would be her worst nightmare, not being able to move or speak."

Diane wakes up in the morning with help from her personal care assistant, who lives with her. The dining room of their house has become her bedroom, where her hospital bed now sits.

She is bathed and dressed by her personal care assistant, and fed through a feeding tube, which is also how she takes her medications. With the help of a wheelchair, Diane is able to sit up for a few hours each day.

Ken plays music for Diane and puts on her favorite movies and television shows. Though she may not always be able to keep up with current events, he reads her the newspaper in an effort to share what is happening outside their home.

While Diane can't move her body voluntarily, Jackie said she has shared moments with her mom that prove she is still aware. They have had moments where jokes were told and Diane would manage a laugh.

Running more than seven miles isn't an easy task for someone who admits she's not an avid runner. Jackie credited her strong finish in the Falmouth Road Race to a disabled man on the sideline of the course. He gave her the boost she needed to continue on.

Jackie recalled that at mile four of the race, one of her knees that sometimes gives her pain started to hurt. A man who appeared to be disabled — shaking, unable to speak and sitting in a wheelchair near a tent for a brain aneurysm organization — reached out his hand to give her a fist bump as she ran by.

"I instantly started crying," Jackie said. "My knee was hurting, but it gave me the boost I needed. There are people out there that have no use of their legs that would do anything to take a few steps, let alone run a whole race."

As she made her way through the final three miles, completing the race brought Jackie not only satisfaction, but the hope that the money she raised for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation will help spread awareness about brain injuries and ways to prevent them.

"It was very sudden, obviously, what happened to my mom,'' Jackie said, "and the biggest thing I hope in raising this money is that they can put a lot of their fundraising efforts into their research to come up with early detection, and raising awareness of brain aneurysms.''

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