Her friends describe her as the “life of the party,” but Alison E. Bird was absent from the party thrown in her honor this week.
Bird, 43, of Nesconset, has been in and out of intensive surgeries to correct Basilar Invagination, a rare condition in which parts of her spine are protruding into her brain.
Since a freak fall in October 2011 triggered the movement of her vertebrae, Bird, assistant principal at Plainedge High School and an active triathlete, has undergone nearly 10 surgeries to correct the condition and subsequent complications.
To help with her mounting medical bills, her sister, Barbara Punturo, and a group of friends organized “Battle for Bird,” a fundraiser held at Mulcahy’s in Wantagh on Jan. 20.
The event raised more than $30,000 to put toward Bird’s care. Separately, an ongoing online fundraising campaign has also raised more than $32,000 of a $125,000 goal.
Bird is being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, where a neurosurgeon specializing in the condition is overseeing her case, said Punturo, 49, of Garden City.
She said her sister — known for her sense of humor and good spirits — has suffered extreme pain and loss of mobility as symptoms of the condition.
“She’s been out of work and incurring medical debt for over a year,” Punturo said. “This was such a rare and unusual procedure, the insurance companies don’t have enough information on it to want to cover it.”
While Bird remains hospitalized in Baltimore, Punturo said another fundraiser will take place at the Chili’s in Bethpage on Jan. 31, when the restaurant will donate 10 percent of each diner’s check to the cause.
Details on the fundraiser and a flyer to bring to the restaurant are available at giveforward.com/battleforbird.