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NGBSA Names Jamboree: Sarah Sterner Jamboree

posted Feb 21, 2010, 11:50 AM by NGBSA Communications Director   [ updated Dec 11, 2010, 5:01 AM ]

NGBSA is proud to announce the Spring 2010 Jamboree will benefit Sarah Sterner.

Sarah just turned 16 last month.  She has been a member of NGBSA since she was 5 years old, and has played virtually every fall and spring season with us.  Last August Sarah was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which has been causing daily seizures.  She is scheduled for her first surgery on March 19th.

We want to show our support for Sarah and her family by donating the proceeds of the Jamboree to the Sterner family.  They will apply the proceeds to cover the expenses of her condition that insurance does not cover.  If there is anything left over, they plan to donate the remaining money to a charity of Sarah's choosing.

Here is a letter from Sarah's parents:

Sarah has always marched to the beat of her own drummer so to speak.
 
By the time she was able to walk she liked playing ball more than playing with dolls!
 
At age 5 Sarah started playing T-Ball at George Pierce Park. Since that time Sarah has played virtually every spring and fall season either recreationally in the park or on a travel team out of the park. Her dad Mike has coached in some capacity several seasons for some of her teams, and her mom Judy has been "team-mom" for every team Sarah has ever played for.
 
Sarah has grown so much as a person and player due to the many wonderful people she has met through softball and the teams from George Pierce Park. She has learned hard work pays off. She has learned sportsmanship from the many fine coaches she has played for, and she has learned that while winning is fun, playing the game is the most fun of all. In her most recent years Sarah has enjoyed playing "rec" ball more than travel. She likes to play "for the fun of the game" and likes to teach and lead the younger newer players. Sarah turned 16 this past January.
 
Due to her current medical condition, the park has allowed her to join a 14U team, the "Michigan Wolverines" for this season. Even though her seizures have prevented her from attending her sophomore year of high school at North Gwinnett, she decided that she wanted to try and play softball this spring. Thus far she has attended practices in a limited fashion, and has had seizure difficulty with the exertion of sports. It was kind of interesting that last week in the cages she was crushing the ball like she normally does, but kind of came out staggering, and for a few minutes could not speak.
 
Her medical story began last August. Sarah was at home and her parents were with her. Mom noticed that Sarah either could not or would not talk to her. Mom told dad and dad came in for a look. Sarah had a very far-away look in her eyes and could not speak. The ambulance was called and when the paramedics arrived and began their work, Sarah had a grand-mal seizure. She had a CT scan and an EEG which both checked out normal. To be safe Sarah was referred to a neurologist and was then sent for a brain MRI. That test is the one that showed she had a tumor.
 
Of all the kinds of brain tumors a child can have, Sarah has one of the better ones. The doctors say that hers is quite likely not cancer, but rather may have been there her whole life and just started effecting her as she matures toward adulthood. Since that time, Sarah has had "simple partial" seizures on an almost a daily basis. Last week she had 7 in one day. Over the last 7 months Sarah has been on an ever changing cocktail of anti-seizure medicines to try and find a combination that would eliminate her seizure activity. No one medicine or mixture of them has worked. Over this time she has had 4 MRI's which have confirmed that her tumor is not growing which is good news. She has also had three EEGs. The simple partial seizures that Sarah endures are like a "zoning out" experience. She will look like she is daydreaming and may get dizzy and nauseous. Her speech may become simplified, slightly slurred or she may be unable to speak for a short time. Usually after a few minutes she is back to normal so to speak. She has learned to live with this, but of course has grown very frustrated that the life she took for granted is not there for her now. Almost since day one, Sarah has hoped for a positive surgical outcome.
 
The difficulty with Sarah's tumor and the reason the doctors did not want to rush into surgery is the location. Her tumor is located in her left temporal lobe where most people's "communication center" is located. This part of the brain is where Sarah's ability to understand and respond to communication is located. Through extensive "brain-mapping" with various tests, it does look likely that there is an opportunity for the tumor to be removed and the seizures to end. While the doctors can make no guarantee, there is optimism that the surgery she will have will prove successful. No seizures and no communication problems is the goal.
 
Currently it looks like Sarah will be admitted to Scottish Rite Hospital on March 19th 2010. On that day she will have the first of two operations. On that day they will place a 32 point electrical grid onto the surface of her brain over the tumor and communication center. There will be 32 wires that will come out of her head and be attached to a computer for a week. These points on the grid will track seizure activity locations and will also be stimulated electrically to pinpoint where her brain's communication centers are located exactly. This week of gathering information will build a visual map for the brain surgeon to have the safest route for the extraction of her tumor.
 
After about a week of gathering that information, Sarah will have a second operation to remove the grid, remove the tumor and close her up. The portion of Sarah's skull that is removed during surgery will be re-secured with small titanium plates and screws and will be stronger than the original! The surgeon says she can get back to playing softball as soon as she feels like it. Her head will be fine!
 
Hopefully before the season is out she will be back crushing hits and mowing down opponents with her pitching!
 
In addition to Sarah's passion for softball, she is also a musician. She plays acoustic and electric guitar and is quite the drummer. Her favorite bands are The Who and Rush. (Got her taste from dad!) She has had the pleasure to meet one of her idols last October.. Roger Daltry the lead singer of The Who! She actually delayed surgery for just a few days because her hero is playing at the Gwinnett Center on March 9th and she is hopeful for a possible encore meeting with him. None the less, meeting or not, the concert will be good medicine before the surgery.
 
The Sterner family wants the community from NGBSA (Players, coaches and parents) to know how moved and humbled they are that the community is thinking of them in their time of crisis. They want all involved to know that this kind of thing can effect anyone, and any family facing the illness of a child or family member is worthy of community support. Sarah helped kick off the Gwinnett Gladiators American Cancer Society Relay for Life and has also spoken to the student body of North Gwinnett High School regarding the same. Even in her time of serious medical concern, she has wanted to raise awareness for the medical issues of others and generate community enthusiasm to provide  financial support for cancer and brain tumor research. One of the tests she had done was experimental and Sarah granted permission for her tests results to be used in a study to perfect the testing and help others afflicted with similar illnesses.
 
More important than financial support, the family welcomes well wishes and prayers for Sarah and her doctors so that her outcome may be a positive one.
 
A motto that the Sterner family has come to live by this year is simply this..."Every good day is a good day indeed" They encourage every parent to cherish every day, moment and milestone with their children. Is there anything better than watching your kid play ball?