Community Spotlight: Stroke Awareness Foundation's Annual Walk Goes Virtual
Like many things, the annual Stroke Awareness Foundation Walk looked a little different in 2020. Normally held in the beautiful Rose Garden in May, amid blooming flowers and a lively band, this year’s event was a virtual gathering, with participants picking up their commemorative shirts and leis in advance, then walking their favorite park, trail, or neighborhood stroll and uploading photos and videos to the Stroke Awareness Foundation’s Facebook page. There, they could also post messages honoring friends and family impacted by this devastating condition.
“We were looking to re-create a sense of togetherness and give our walkers and sponsors a chance to celebrate their stroke survivor as well as honor those lost to stroke,” says Noemi Conway, Executive Director of the Stroke Awareness Foundation. “Fortunately, our sponsors generously stuck by us, even though we had to change things up a bit this year.”
Founded nine years ago by Chuck Toeniskoetter, himself a stroke survivor, the Stroke Awareness Foundation has led efforts to improve outcomes for stroke victims in Silicon Valley, including helping local hospitals become Certified Stroke Centers and ensuring that emergency medical responders transport stroke victims directly to these centers. “Stroke is survivable, but every second counts,” Conway explains. It is critical to recognize the signs of a stroke and get to a stroke center as soon as possible. TPA, a powerful clot buster, is highly effective in treating strokes, but it must be administered within three and a half hours of symptom onset.
Making sure stroke information is available to all is one of the Foundation’s highest priorities. Conway points out, for example, that many people in multi-cultural communities aren’t familiar with the signs of stroke and may be reluctant to call 911 or ride in an ambulance. “In these communities, there’s a tendency to wait and seek treatment from a doctor they trust,” she adds. But any delay in treatment can result in a negative outcome. Patients are at increased risk for suffering mental and/or physical deficits -- or worse.
That’s why in 2020, the Stroke Awareness Foundation expanded its outreach to the Hispanic community, with Spanish language ads and public service announcements on radio and digital media. It also made information on its website available in four languages – English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese.
That outreach will soon expand. Partnering with Regional Medical Center, the Foundation recently won a Care Star grant to help reach those at high risk but less likely to seek care. “We’ll be working with religious groups, community organizations, and health care centers in underserved communities to help people understand what stroke is and how to get help,” Conway says.
For more information, visit the Stroke Foundation at www.strokeinfo.org. You can also download the Stroke Foundation app, which helps you quickly identify stroke signs, locates the nearest Certified Stroke Center, and calls 911 while texting your location to your emergency contacts.