LOS ANGELES, Sept. 30, 2022 – Five years ago, Brianne Rico was preparing for the bar exam when she suddenly collapsed on the floor. She couldn’t make out any of the words she was reading. They looked like jumbled letters, she said.
Four days before the bar exam, at age 27, Brianne suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the left side of her body. While Brianne was in the hospital, a doctor said she would never walk again. Brianne remembers her mom whispering in her ear repeatedly, “You will walk again. You will walk again.”
After three months in the hospital, Brianne spent four to six hours daily for five months in intensive rehabilitation to regain her mobility. She started with a few steps, later walking with a leg brace and a cane. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop trying. One day I just decided to throw out the cane, get rid of the brace and walk,” she said.
Brianne is looking forward to participating in the Los Angeles Heart & Stroke Walk with her loved ones to bring attention to stroke and raise funds in support of the American Heart Association’s mission to save lives from cardiovascular disease.
The Heart & Stroke Walk, which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, is expected to draw thousands of people. The event, sponsored by UCLA Health, Keck Medicine of USC and Dignity Health, includes a one mile walk around the concourse, health screenings, kids zone, live music, a gathering place for heart disease and stroke survivors and more. People can register to join at HeartWalkLA.org.
Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more than 870,000 men, women and children every year. Funds raised at the Heart Walk support efforts to improve care and outcomes for heart disease and stroke patients, advocate for stronger public health policies and fund innovative scientific research to improve survival and find cures. The American Heart Association has invested more than $5 billion in research, resulting in breakthroughs that save and improve countless lives every day, including CPR, the artificial heart valve, cholesterol lowering drugs, stents and microsurgery. The Association is also committed to improving health equity by changing structures, laws and systems that make it difficult for many people to achieve a full and healthy life.
“Improving health is a long-term plan and what we do as a community today builds a future and a legacy for Los Angeles County,” said Paul Watkins, president and CEO of Dignity Health Northridge and chairman of the 2022 LA Heart & Stroke Walk. “We need to take action as a community to better prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease and stroke so that fewer people suffer and die.”
Over the past five years, Brianne has been working hard to get her life back on track and she credits her family for her recovery and for helping her through this difficult period in her life. “It takes a village, and I couldn’t have done it without my mom Kathy, dad Jerry and sisters Ashley and Destiny who were with me every step of the way,” Brianne said. “My support system has since gotten bigger with the addition of my nephews Carson and Phoenix and my loving boyfriend Vincent who cheers me on every day.”
Brianne has regained her full ability to walk and is studying for the bar exam, which she missed because of the stroke. Her goal is to practice law one day soon. “My message to those who are going through a tough time like I have is to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It may take a while to get there, but it’s there,” she said.
For information about the Los Angeles Heart & Stroke Walk, go to HeartWalkLA.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or (213) 291-7000.