Hart High graduate raises funds for brain surgery

18-year-old Ruby Burroughs during a game after committing to the California Baptist University soccer team. Photo courtesy of Ruby Burroughs.

After receiving medical attention for a concussion obtained during a soccer game, 18-year-old Ruby Burroughs was given a disheartening, unrelated diagnosis: She would need brain surgery.

Burroughs, who has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since she was an infant, was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a semi-common condition that affects brain tissue and the spinal canal, and would require brain surgery to prevent the condition from worsening.

“When I was told about it, I was concussed so I felt lost and unsure about everything.” Burroughs said. “It didn’t really process at the time that there could be something really wrong.”

Burroughs played soccer for Hart High School before committing to the soccer team for California Baptist University. It was during one of the practices earlier this year at CBU where Burroughs suffered a concussion after colliding with a teammate, leading to her diagnosis of the malformation.

“I have had surgeries before on many different parts of my body, so I know what to expect with the surgery process,” Burroughs said. “But this will be much different because it’s my brain and as the surgery date gets closer I get a little more nervous.”

In order to pay uncovered medical bills, a friend of Burroughs set up a GoFundMe page that was well received by people in the local community, and across other places as well.

To date, the GoFundMe page has exceeded expectations, surpassing the $15,000 goal and raising more than $20,000 to go toward Burroughs’ medical bills.

“I’m speechless.” Burroughs said. “I didn’t know it was going to reach this many people so quickly – or ever for that matter – but I feel so thankful and very loved. People from all over the place have donated.”

The surgery, which is scheduled at the end of this month, will prevent any further damage to occur due to the malformation. Burroughs said she’s suffered with migraines and imbalances, but didn’t think much of it since it was something she recalls always dealing with. Doctors told Burroughs this condition wasn’t brought on by an injury relating to soccer, but it’s a condition many people are born with.

If left untreated, people diagnosed with Chiari malformation could deal with severe migraines, nerve damage affecting arms and legs, trouble keeping balance and eventually lose their vision.

Burroughs said although it’s an unfortunate diagnosis, she was glad it was caught before symptoms worsened and is optimistic about the outcome of the surgery. 

“It is scary but I am having good spirits about it and being positive,” Burroughs said. “I have so many people behind me in this valley and in my family, even people I don’t even know, and knowing that is very helpful.”

Burroughs’ GoFundMe page can be found at https://bit.ly/3rkObqa.

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