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'Fun Run' slated in White Oak park to raise funds for ill White Oak girl

| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 2:24 p.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Tanya and Ed Hrinda have five children, from left, John (held by his mother), Gabby, Luke, Kate and Andrew. 'Gabby's Fun Run' is being held Oct. 5 for human and pet participants to help the family pay Gabby's expenses as she recovers from a burst blood vessel in her brain, with some proceeds also helping White Oak Animal Safe Haven.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Doing their part to raise funds for the Hrinda family are Mon Yough Catholic students, from left, Kristina Schriane, Nora Marzaloes, Brianne Pasternak, Isabella Countryman, Ava Dzurenda, Maya Pozivak and Gabby Mejalli.

Twelve days from now, a 5K “Gabby's Fun Run” is planned in White Oak Regional Park.

Part of its purpose is to benefit a young survivor, though a portion of proceeds will be donated to White Oak Animal Safe Haven.

“She is continually improving,” Tanya Hrinda of White Oak said about her 9-year-old daughter, Gabby.

A year and three weeks ago, Gabby woke up with a headache and nausea.

Within minutes, her family realized it wasn't a typical illness. Gabby was on the floor, unable to talk.

Within hours, doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC were tackling a burst aneurysm.

“In the left side of her brain,” Tanya Hrinda recalled last week, as family members planned the fundraiser on Oct. 5 in the Redwood Shelter at the park.

“She's defied the odds from the beginning,” her father Ed Hrinda said.

The weakness in a blood vessel was nothing anyone expected.

“She was completely normal and healthy before,” Ed Hrinda said.

These days, Gabby looks normal and healthy, gathered at a picnic table near her home with her parents and siblings Andrew, 10, Kate, 7, Luke, 5, and John, 1.

But that comes after a long process that began with 14 days in intensive care, six in acute care and 56 in inpatient intensive therapy at the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh.

“She pretty much had to relearn everything, to walk, to talk,” Tanya Hrinda said. “She's still in therapies at the Children's Institute.”

But now it's on an outpatient basis, as Gabby resumes fourth grade classes in the St. Anthony program at Mon Yough Catholic School.

Ask her how she feels and she says, “Good.”

Tanya Hrinda said most of Gabby's problems are on her right side and she has limited use of that arm.

It is hard for her to shake hands.

A hard brace on her right leg is the result of a recent fall. In addition, Gabby utilizes Bioness Inc. electrical stimulation devices. Her parents said one is for her right leg, the other for her right hand.

The Hrinda family is grateful for all the support they've received in the past year, including blood drives.

“I'd like to thank everybody,” Ed Hrinda said.

“It is continuing support,” Tanya Hrinda said.

“It is humbling,” Ed Hrinda continued. The parents hope the effort will become an annual effort, big enough to help other kids as well.

The fun run will begin at 9 a.m. but participants are asked to show up by 8.

In addition to the White Oak shelter, the Clayton Kendall merchandising firm of Monroeville is a major sponsor. Fliers for “Gabby's Fun Run” were produced by Minuteman Press in North Versailles Township.

Participants can register online through Oct. 4 at, using the keyword “Gabby Hrinda.” The race fee is $20 for adults, $10 for children and $5 for pets.

Prizes will be awarded for best human and best pet costumes.

There is a “fun run for Gabby 5K” website provided by Robert Charles Wedding Films of Pittsburgh and Savannah, Ga., and a “Fun Run For Gabby Hrinda” page on Facebook.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or

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