Former Barrow Patient to Host 2nd Stride 4 Spines Run

A competitive distance runner who underwent five surgeries at Barrow after injuring her spine in a cycling accident is hosting a running event to raise money for the institute.

Stride 4 Spines, which is part of the Dignity Health Run Series, will be held Saturday, Jan. 23 at Arizona Falls in Phoenix. The event includes a 10K race, 5K race, and 1-mile fun run. It is open to children and adults of all abilities.

Cristin Van Driel organized the inaugural Stride 4 Spines event last year, attracting nearly 200 participants and raising almost $4,000 for Barrow.

Randall W. Porter, M.D. with his patient Friday August 3, 2012 Cristin Van Drier at Barrow Neurosurgical Associates. Photo Brad Armstrong Photography©2012
Cristin Van Driel with Neurosurgeon Dr. Randall Porter.

“I wanted to find a way to give back to Barrow, so I had the idea of putting on a race to raise money for neurological research and treatment,” she said.

Van Driel suffered fractures in her spine, temporary paralysis, broken ribs, a concussion, and other serious injuries when she was struck by a car in July 2000.

“The accident left me without feeling in my legs for a period of time, which is the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” she said. “I can’t even put into words how scary that is.”

Van Driel underwent her first surgery at Barrow in January 2010. Neurosurgeon Dr. Randall Porter used 14 screws, four rods, and two plates to stabilize and rebuild her spine.

She underwent a second procedure in December 2010 to remove some hardware that her body was rejecting and a third major surgery in April 2011 to further stabilize her spine, as well as procedures to eliminate nerve compression and neurological deficit.

Van Driel returned to competitive distance running, qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2012.

“It was definitely a miracle that Dr. Porter was able to do the surgery he did and give me the ability to run again and live the life that I love to live,” she said.

Van Driel also coaches runners of all ages and abilities, sharing her philosophy that challenges can be overcome through faith and a positive attitude.

It was definitely a miracle that Dr. Porter was able to do the surgery he did and give me the ability to run again and live the life that I love to live.

-Cristin Van Driel, former Barrow patient

“Cristin is a remarkable person and athlete,” Dr. Porter said. “She has undergone two major lower spinal reconstructive surgeries and a cervical disc replacement. She continues to fight back and compete at a very high level. She also uses her gifts to give back to the community, especially to Barrow through the Stride 4 Spines fund event.”

Van Driel also started a nonprofit organization called Ultimate Courage Overcoming Obstacles to support Barrow.

“When we met three years ago, Cristin set a goal to raise money for and bring awareness to Barrow and has done just that,” said Ani Gurlekian, who has worked closely with Van Driel through the Barrow Foundation. “She never gives up and is an absolutely amazing individual to have advocating and fundraising on our behalf.”

For more information on Stride 4 Spines and to register for the event, visit