Six years after she was paralyzed, Holly Gerlach laced up her running shoes and completed a five-kilometre run on Saturday.
“Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I was at home recovering from giving birth and my finger started to tingle. I went to the hospital and within 24 hours, I was completely paralyzed,” Gerlach said.
In 2011, Gerlach was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). The rare neurological disorder causes progressive paralysis and affects about one to two out of every 100,000 people.
The young mother spent months in the hospital and was eventually able to make a remarkable recovery.
On Saturday, she ran in the Neuro Science, Education, Research and Discovery (N.E.R.D.) Run to raise awareness and funds for both the GBS-CIDP Foundation and the University of Alberta N.E.R.D. department.
“It’s rare but it does affect people still. When you’re going through it, it doesn’t seem rare to you,” Gerlach said.
The N.E.R.D. Run raises awareness and funds for neurological research.
“There are researchers here but more importantly, the students who are part of the neuroscience institute here and are really learning about all types of things like Alzheimer’s to spinal cord rehabilitation,” Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute director Douglas Zochodne said.
Ten to 12 people are diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in Edmonton each year.