Youth on the fast track to helping others

Youth on the fast track to helping others

Youth on the fast track to helping others


For the Mail Call

A 15-year-old south county resident re-turned to Disney World in January and completed a vacation that began seven years ago.

Marcie Huelsing of Grantwood Village ran a 13.1-mile course Jan. 12 through Disney World in Orlando, Fla., as part of the American Stroke Association’s Train to End Stroke program.

“It’s not so much that running is appealing to me,” Marcie told the Mail Call. “I thought it was a good thing to do. I thought it was neat that I could run and raise all that money in honor of my cousin.”

Her cousin Luke was born seven years ago while her family and three others were visiting Florida in a home on Captiva Island near Fort Meyers.

Among the things they wanted to do during the trip to Florida was a trip to Disney World, but that was delayed when her aunt, who was six months’ pregnant, gave birth to Luke, who is now a healthy 7-year-old.

But at the time, Marcie remembers a sense of shock.

“I remember going to the hospital and the baby’s legs were the size of my pinky,” she said.

Because the baby was born three months’ premature, Marcie said doctors were giving him medications to help his vital organs develop.

While her nephew and aunt were in the hospital, Marcie’s mother, Jean, said her uncle had to return to work in St. Louis to maintain his family’s insurance eligibility.

With the adults at the hospital, responsibility for caring for the couple’s 2-year old daughter fell to Marcie and her brother Mike.

“All I did was watch my cousin Ra-chel,” Marcie said.

“The medication they had (Luke) on caused an internal ‘brain bleed,”’ Jean said. “He’s 7 years old now. He has some residual effects, but he seems to be a happy, healthy little guy.”

The experience made an impression on Marcie.

Five years later she noticed a flyer at her local gym and volunteered to raise funds for the Stroke Association.

“I hadn’t gotten anything for more than a year and then, out of the blue, I get this letter from a lady who said her niece had a stroke,” Marcie said. “Then I went to their meeting and that’s when I decided to participate in the marathon. I chose the Dis-ney one because that was when I’d be out of school.”

Training started last July 23 and Marcie spent 204 hours training for the 13.1-mile run. Besides running, she sent letters to friends and relatives seeking donations and attended clinics.

Most of her training was done on Grant’s Trail near her home.

“The night before the marathon we were watching CNN and they reported that for the first time that in Australia they were using saliva from vampire bats to postpone strokes for nine hours,” Marcie said. “Medicines (available) now you’d have to go in in about two hours.”

“That was inspirational,” her mother said. “That was exactly why we were there for the marathon.”

Marcie, a sophomore at Ursuline Acad-emy, said helping people makes her feel good.

She also participated in the Susan Ko-men Race for a Cure to benefit breast cancer research, volunteers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and is in Care Bears at school.

“I’d much rather use my time constructively,” she said. “It feels good to know that I’m helping people.”

Marcie, who finished the race “in the mid-dle,” said she wants to go into health care when she’s old enough.

“Our family is big into health care,” she said. “My mom was a nurse, now she’s a teacher. My brother is going to be a pharmacist. My grandma volunteers at the hospital. I want to do that too.”