DALLAS, May 3, 2023 — Six local stroke heroes from across the country are being recognized by the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, for their resiliency and dedication to rise up against stroke. Approximately 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year, a leading cause of disability in the U.S., and one in four survivors will have another one.
The American Stroke Association’s annual Stroke Hero Awards honors stroke survivors, health care professionals and family caregivers. The Association, devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, celebrates these heroes during American Stroke Month this May and proudly advocates for stroke survivors year-round.
Recovering from a stroke is a complicated and unique journey, different for every person. The following Stroke Heroes are being recognized for outstanding efforts in educating, inspiring and raising awareness about stroke.
- Caregiver Hero: Justine Knight, Raleigh, North Carolina
As a high school sophomore, Justine Knight became her father’s biggest advocate when he had a stroke in 2008. She accompanied him to countless support group meetings and began volunteering with Triangle Aphasia Project Unlimited (TAP) in Cary, North Carolina. Eventually, she became his primary caregiver, and she and her husband, Jason, modified their home and habits to accommodate his physical limitations. Justine is now executive director of TAP, offering support to other stroke survivors.
- Equity Hero: Dr. William “BJ” Hicks, Columbus, Ohio
Vascular neurologist William “BJ” Hicks is committed to treating stroke survivors and reducing stroke incidence in under-resourced communities. A passionate advocate for policies that reduce health disparities, he helped create the Franklin County Hypertension Network, which unites health centers, doctors and local community groups that focus on addressing social determinants of health. He also led a seven-year effort to create a mobile stroke treatment unit, unveiled in 2019, in Central Ohio.
- Group Heroes: Stamp Out Stroke, New Haven, Connecticut
A program of Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital, Stamp Out Stroke provides stroke education to hundreds of people — from teens at a science summer camp to residents of senior housing — with a focus on under-resourced areas. The program’s 50-plus volunteers represent a cross-section of the medical community, including nurses, nurse navigators, physicians, neuropsychologists, neurology residents, rehab professionals and students studying to become doctors, physician assistants and nurses.
- Pediatric Hero: Mariah Fisher, San Jose, California
In 2018, a massive stroke caused by an arteriovenous malformation changed 12-year-old Mariah Fisher’s life. She spent seven weeks in the hospital and endured countless procedures and sessions of intense physical, occupational, speech, music and recreational therapy. Despite what she lost due to her stroke — including most of the seventh and eighth grades — she never lost her positive attitude and determination to get better. She’s now an award-winning, speech-giving, inspiring pediatric stroke survivor.
- Survivor Hero: Debra Meyerson, Portola Valley, California
A stroke in 2010 nearly killed Debra Meyerson. After three years of intense rehabilitation, she wasn’t able to return to Stanford University as a tenured professor, largely due to aphasia, a language disorder that affects your ability to communicate. As she struggled to forge a new identity, she wrote the book “Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke.” She and her husband, Steve Zuckerman, then founded Stroke Onward, a nonprofit whose mission is to ensure stroke survivors and supporters have resources to rebuild identities and rewarding lives.
- Voters’ Choice Hero: ProMedica Stroke Network, Toledo, Ohio
The ProMedica Toledo Stroke Network takes a holistic approach to stroke prevention and care. It raises awareness and money to support stroke patients with limited financial means through its BE FAST 5K Run/Walk. It led implementation of a countywide EMS protocol that gets acute stroke patients to the hospital faster — and then successfully advocated for a statewide rollout. And, it has sent team members as far away as Pakistan to teach interventionalists how to perform neuroendovascular procedures.
Winners were selected by a nationwide panel of volunteer judges from the American Stroke Association, with the exception of the Voters’ Choice Award, which was selected via online popular vote.
Those who have had a stroke often must work against physical, emotional and cognitive changes to move forward. For 25 years the American Stroke Association has been a powerful force in ensuring that those who have a stroke get timely, optimal care, support, rehab services and more.
For more information, visit www.Stroke.org/HeroAwards.
- Photos of Stroke Heroes awardees may be downloaded from the right column of the release link: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/american-stroke-association-names-2023-stroke-heroes?preview=91fc621e7b9e4fb86746fb92e7d8419e
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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 on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is a relentless force for a world with fewer strokes and longer, healthier lives. We team with millions of volunteers and donors to ensure equitable health and stroke care in all communities. We work to prevent, treat and beat stroke by funding innovative research, fighting for the public’s health, and providing lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based association was created in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit stroke.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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