Founder Becky Winchell is Top Female Achiever

New Orleans Magazine recognized Aneurysm Awareness activist Becky Winchell’s work, naming her a Top Female Achiever as part of the magazine’s annual event.

Rebecca Winchell-Top Female Achiever

Aneurysm Survival Activist


Becky Winchell of Mandeville, a full-time mother of seven, had finished one of her weekly tennis games on a spring day in 2009 when she was hit with the kind of bad headache she’d had on and off for months. After ibuprofen didn’t touch the pain, Winchell sought help at a Mandeville hospital, where she was misdiagnosed with a migraine headache. But when Winchell returned to the ER that night with worsened pain, blurry vision and vomiting, doctors ordered a spinal tap that confirmed a ruptured aneurysm in one of her brain’s blood vessels. She needed immediate surgery to stop the bleeding.

No doctors in her area were equipped for that operation, so Winchell was transferred by ambulance to West Jefferson Medical Center and the care of interventional neuroradiologist Dr. Robert Dawson and Dr. Frank Culicchia, a neurosurgeon. Dawson went to work, in a minimally invasive procedure that lasted four hours, to thread a thin titanium wire through an artery from Winchell’s groin up to her brain, where he coiled up the wire inside the aneurysm to stop the bleeding. The ordeal left Winchell with no sign of having had an aneurysm, but it sent her on a mission to spread the word about this condition. For one thing, she said, people need to know that vomiting, severe head and neck pain and blurred vision are common symptoms of aneurysm ruptures, which are often misdiagnosed as migraine headaches. Moreover, people whose close relatives have had ruptured aneurysms are genetically predisposed to the condition and should get tested. In 2009 Winchell started an annual tennis tournament, Aces Against Aneurysm, to raise funds for aneurysm research – more than $30,000 so far.

The $12,000 brought in by last year’s tournament went to the national Brain Aneurysm Foundation, which kicked in $3,000 more to create a research grant named in honor of Robert Simon, a Mandeville man who died from a brain aneurysm. Winchell also established the first support group in the metropolitan New Orleans area for aneurysm survivors and their families. An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. For more information, visit or contact Winchell

Mentor: Barbara Fisher, director of tennis at Pelican Athletic Club, for her sage wisdom on and off the courts. West Bank neurosurgeon Dr. Frank Culicchia for his inspiration and support of aneurysm awareness charity. My mother, Amelia Lewis, for her strength and timely wisdom.

Defining Moment: I have two. The first was a trip to Israel with my brother, an experience that enlightened me in my Catholic faith. The second was surviving my aneurysm and realizing how fragile our precious lives are. I learned to not take anything for granted.

Advice to Young Women: Be true to yourself; you’re worthy!

Goals: To spread awareness throughout the Gulf South that aneurysms and strokes can be prevented. Hopefully to one day turn this endeavor into a foundation that would incorporate an array of doctors in the New Orleans area and beyond.

Favorite Things About What I Do: I took something that I was passionate about and incorporated it into my love of tennis, thereby bringing the community together to raise awareness through the Aces Against Aneurysms tennis tournament. Raising my seven children has taught me to cook for a crowd, handle riot management and deal with last-minute school projects, all while on autopilot.

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Register Now for Our Fundraising Tennis Tourney!


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New Orleans Saints Name Rebecca Winchell a Community Quarterback

Exciting news – the New Orleans Saints football team recognized brain aneurysm support group founder Rebecca Winchell as a “Community Quarterback” and is awarding a $1,000 grant to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to support the local aneurysm support group here in town.

Becky will be recognized at the Saints-Panthers game, along with other Community Quarterbacks.

The 3rd annual Aces Against Aneurysms fundraising tennis tournament is April 16, 2012 – check back for more information!

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Mark Your Calendar-April 16, 2012!

The date is set!   The third annual Aces Against Aneurysms Tennis Tournament will take place on Monday, April 16 at Pelican Athletic Club.  The tournament is an important fundraiser for our brain aneurysm support group.  We were able to fund medical research with proceeds from last year’s tournament.

Email us at if you are interested in being a sponsor or supporting the cause. We will have more info on registration soon!

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Our Tournament Proceeds Funded A Research Chair!

In memory of Bob Simon, loving husband and father

Big News!

The funds we raised from this year’s tournament have funded a national Brain Aneurysm Foundation research grant in the memory of Bob Simon. You may recall that Bob died last spring of an aneurysm, just before our tournament and we dedicated the event to him.

Dr. L. Fernando Gonzalez, M.D., Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA. received the Robert Simon Chair of Research, a $15,000 grant to help fund his research – The Effect of Sequential Flow Diversion Stenting, with Pipeline Embolization Device on the Aneurysm Pressure. Read more in this article from the Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience.

This grant is exactly why we do what we do. Thanks to all who support this great cause!

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Next Brain Aneurysm Support Group Meeting: Friday, Sept. 23

Mark  your calendars – the next meeting of the Brain Aneurysm Support Group is Friday, Sept. 23 at noon in room 201 of the Physicians Office Building at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero. Dr. Andrea Toomer of Culicchia Neurological Clinic is our featured speaker. Dr. Toomer will talk about the rehabilitative process following an aneurysm, stroke or similar brain injury. More info to come!

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2011 Tennis Tourney Raises $12,000

The second annual Aces Against Aneurysms tennis tournament netted $12,000 for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. The tournament’s organizing committee shared the news today at the Pelican Athletic Club.

A check was presented today in the memory of Robert Simon.  On March 23, 2011, Simon died of a ruptured brain aneurysm.  To honor his memory, Pelican Athletic Club Charity Foundation donated the tournament’s proceeds to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

The Aces Against Aneurysms organization helps to raise awareness in the Gulf South region about the potentially deadly condition.  Rebecca Winchell, a survivor of a ruptured brain aneurysm, established the tournament in 2010 as well as a website ( and support group in the New Orleans area.

Robert Simon was a loving husband, father of two children and an avid tennis player.  The tournament is now dedicating its funds in his memory so that research and efforts to reduce the number of deadly aneurysms may continue.

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