National Stroke Association's New Faces of Stroke(SM) Ambassadors Aim to Change Misconceptions about Stroke
National Stroke Association's Faces of Stroke public awareness campaign aims to change the public perceptions of stroke through education and personal stories of those impacted by the fourth leading cause of death. This May, during National Stroke Awareness Month, four campaign ambassadors will begin educating the communities they live in about important life-saving stroke information through activities, events and media outreach. Learn more about the campaign at stroke.org/faces.
The Faces of Stroke Ambassadors include:
- Bailey Carlson, 18, a teenage stroke survivor from Minnesota. While stroke can happen at any age, few know that stroke is among the top ten causes of death in children in the US. While Carlson is back in school and looking forward to college, Carlson admits that thinking about her stroke makes her tear up, but she's hanging in there. "There are definitely days," she says, "when I think I won't ever be normal again, but I am making steady progress. I am hoping one day that my experience can be helpful to others in my situation."
- Lenice Hogan, 46, is a three-time stroke survivor from Nebraska. A single mother, Hogan began running marathons that turned out to not only be physically challenging, but also healing. She has run the marathon three times and plans to run at least 17 more—"not just for me, but for all of the survivors who can't walk, much less run." Hogan has won the identity crisis facing many stroke survivors who are progressing through recovery. "I spent two years as a victim," says Hogan, "but have definitely moved to survivor."
- Charles Louis, 48, suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage six years ago. The remaining effects of Louis' stroke include short-term memory loss, some trouble writing and foot drop. Louis is interested in raising awareness about risk factors, including being African-American and having high blood pressure. While he has not returned to work, he has spent more than two years as a volunteer at National Stroke Association, giving an empathetic ear to stroke survivors and caregivers who call the organization looking for resources, information or just a friendly voice. He also attends and speaks at stroke support groups and community centers.
- Richard (Dick) L. Burns, 81, had a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 38. Unsure what to do for him, doctors were ready to give up on him. "My obituary was written," he says. But Burns was truly a survivor—he woke up from his coma the next day and began his long road to recovery. "The next morning arrived and so did I," he says. Burns wrote a book called Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck, which inspires other stroke survivors to persevere. "Nothing is impossible if you hope," Burns says.
"The Faces of Stroke campaign has been successful because it gives anyone affected by stroke the means to take the reins and educate people they care about by telling their story. It gives the very people we serve every day a role in the act of raising awareness, on both national and local levels. Not only are important lifesaving messages reaching people through these powerful stories, but the people involved are channeling a strong desire and need to help someone avoid what's happened to them. There truly isn't anything much more inspiring than empowered stroke champions committed to saving lives, such as our four outstanding ambassadors," said Jim Baranski, Chief Executive Officer of National Stroke Association. "We are just grateful to have a vehicle by which to let them drive."
The Faces of Stroke campaign features an online gallery of hundreds of stroke champions' stories and photos, an easy-to-use story submission tool, educational information about stroke and new ways to share stories online on Facebook, Twitter and via email.
National Stroke Awareness Month has been recognized during May since 1989. Yet, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing more than 133,000 people a year. The public is dangerously uninformed about stroke and few know that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to effectively manage risk. National Stroke Association offers free tools and resources for raising awareness at stroke.org, including the Stroke Awareness Resource Center and the Faces of Stroke campaign.