In an effort to raise funds for treatment for a local woman who has been fighting a rare brain disorder since May 2011, a small group of friends has created a two-day event that will make its debut in the coastal, historic town of Searsport over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Funds raised will pay for insurance co-pays, premiums, travel and lodging expenses for Jess Connor to go to New York where she will undergo what event organizers say is a “risky, but promising” brain surgery to treat the disorder.

Chiari Malformation is a disorder in which the cerebellar tonsils protrude out of the base of the skull, and into the spinal column, often blocking spinal fluid and increasing the risk of hydrocephalus. Symptoms can be constant, or intermittent, and include: severe, debilitating headaches, neck pain, balance issues, poor coordination, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, dizziness, difficulty breathing, visual disturbances, slurred speech, tinnitus, extreme fatigue, memory loss, sinus problems, and more.

The surgery does not guarantee a total cure, but it has been proven to effectively relieve the majority of symptoms associated with the disorder. Recovery time after surgery is about three to six months.

March Madness is a collaborative effort of a core group of about 10 volunteers who helped dream up this weekend event which includes a MAD Dash 3-kilomter run, Atlantic Ocean Deep Freeze Polar Plunge, an auction by Bumpa’s Antiques & Collectibles, an Irish-themed MAD Dash public supper and cooking contest, a Death By Chocolate Dessert Bar and chocolatier contest, black light Zumba by Curves of Belfast, a blacklight block party with dueling DJ’s, Debbie O’Leary and Darrin Abbott, a baby fair, craft fair, vendor demos and samples, Keemy the Trick Pony, a kids concert, and a house of fun with bounce houses and more.

The event is slated for Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17 at various locations throughout the town, including the town wharf and various public buildings.

The March Madness committee is still seeking more volunteers and donations of items for the benefit auction, as well as business sponsors. Anyone interested should email: 1stannualmarchmadness@gmail.com.

Registration is still open for the many of the events listed above. Anyone interested in these events can contact the committee at the email listed above for the appropriate contact person and contact information.