Firefighters host benefit for two of their own

Posted July 4, 2019 at 5:00 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

Most often they’d be found flipping pancakes or serving the crowd at a fellow fire-rescue volunteer’s pancake breakfast fundraiser but this time they are the ones in need.

Akron Firefighter Cory Wetrosky woke up Sunday, May 26, with a migraine headache. As the day progressed, the headache lessened but when his wife, Jenni, an Akron ambulance driver, came home, he told her the right side of his face went numb — kind of felt like dentists’ novocaine wearing off.

She was thinking he was having stroke symptoms but the 32-year-old said if he didn’t feel better by the next day, which was Memorial Day, he’d go to the doctor.

They went to the Hawarden Regional Healthcare Emergency Room and he was diagnosed with a sinus infection.

But by Wednesday, May 29, Cory still didn’t feel better and as Jenni was planning to call their regular doctor, she received a text from him saying the roof of his mouth was going numb.

Instead of their doctor’s office, they went to Floyd Valley Hospital’s Emergency Room where a CT Scan was done, revealing some sort of brain bleed.

Cory was referred to MercyOne hospital in Sioux City where he was diagnosed with cerebral cavernous malformations that was confirmed by an MRI image the following day.

Doctors were surprised Jenni already knew what the cerebral cavernous malformations were — their youngest daughter, Kinze, has them.

“It’s a rare thing,” said Jenni, who works part-time as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Akron Care Center.

“Only 0.5 percent of the population worldwide has cerebral cavernous malformations,” their doctor told them.

Since then, Cory has been in and out of area hospitals as he deals with other emerging symptoms.

Most recently, he was also diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth or putting on makeup — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain, according to www.mayoclinic.org.

According to Jenni, they do not know if more cerebral cavernous malformations will develop and lead to more diagnoses like Trigeminal Nueralgia or just disappear in the future.

In addition, the neurologist recommended their four children be tested to see if the cerebral cavernous malformations were genetic. Their son, Tyler is 13, an Akron-Westfield eighth grade Westerner football player and wrestler; Hayli, age 8, is an A-W second grader; Ryann, age 6, is an A-W first grader; and Kinze, age 4, will attend A-W Preschool this fall.

They are waiting for their children’s results as well as to see if Kinze’s is familial or sporadic, said Jenni.

Cory, an A-W Class of 2005 alum, has been unable to return to his maintenance job at Heyl Truck Lines and Jenni’s work is just part-time. Although they have medical insurance, the medical bills are mounting as they also struggle to deal with loss of income.

Both are members of the Akron Fire-Rescue Department. Cory, who wears Helmet No. 25, has served as an Akron firefighter since November 2013 and Jenni returned to the ambulance squad as a driver in November 2018. They are members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Akron.

Cory is the son of Lori and Greg Wetrosky of Akron. Greg owns and operates Greg’s Lawn Service and Lori is employed at the Akron Care Center. His siblings are Nathan Vanderhelm; Jamie and his wife, Krista Vanderhelm; Jodi Wetrosky, all of Akron; and Jayde Wetrosky of Sioux City.

Jenni’s mother, Destini Sowienski, and grandmother, Judy Burdorf, live at Ridgewood Apartments in Akron.

From 8 a.m. to Noon, Sunday, July 14 at St. Patrick’s Fellowship Hall, the Akron Firefighters Association is hosting a pancake breakfast fundraiser for the Wetrosky family.

During the pancake fundraiser, a silent auction will be held. Auction items can be donated through any Akron Fire-Rescue Department member.

“It’s overwhelming to see a small town come together to help people in need,” said Jenni who struggled to find words to describe how it feels to be a recipient instead of a benefactor.

“You always hear people say how fire departments are brothers and sisters,” said Jenni. “It’s kind of cool how they come together for one of their own.”

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