Cycling has been a part of Debra and Steve’s lives both individually and as a family since they met in graduate school. So it’s not surprising that cycling has played heavily in Debra’s recovery and their life as a couple since the stroke. Riding a tandem has enabled them to keep fitness in their lives and continue to enjoy athletic adventures together and with friends as they had before. 

Joining Debra and Steve to complete the Stroke Across America Riding Team are: Whitney Hardy, survivor of a Traumatic Brain Injury, Michael Obel-Omia, stroke survivor, and the Stroke Across America interns Alex Rubin and Emily Talkow. 

Debra Meyerson: stroke survivor, professor, author of Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke (and other books), and co-founder of Stroke Onward. She hates riding a tandem bicycle — it forces her to give up control. But at least we found one that doesn’t aggravate the spasticity in her right calf (muscle cramps from stroke) and gives her the best view. More about Deb’s background is available here.

Find Deb on Instagram @deb_meyerson.

Steve Zuckerman: husband, carepartner, “unnamed co-author” of Identity Theft and co-founder of Stroke Onward. Professionally, Stroke Onward is “chapter 3” after 15-year careers in each of private equity and economic justice. Riding cross country has been on his “bucket list” for 40 years and he’s thrilled to finally be doing it – and for such an important cause. More about Steve’s background is available here.

Find Steve on LinkedIn and Strava.

Whitney Hardy: Grew up in Truckee, CA where skiing and soccer were her passions. Played four years of varsity soccer at Tufts in Boston. Four years after graduating in 2010 she was hit by a car while jogging, struggled for months to survive, and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). For her, this trip is part of her ongoing recovery — a physical challenge yes, but even more a way to push herself both cognitively and emotionally. More about Whitney’s background is available here.

Find Whitney on Instagram @tbi_across_america.

Michael Obel-Omia: Educator, poet, aphasia advocate, cyclist, stroke survivor. Michael’s stroke in May of 2016 caused aphasia and weakness on his left side. He has used poetry to recover his language and recently published a collection of poetry titled Finding My Words: Aphasia Poetry. He’s excited to continue his physical recovery and raise awareness for stroke and aphasia on this cross-country ride. More about Michael’s background is available here.

Find Michael on Instagram @obelomia.

Alex Rubin: Rising senior and member of the varsity softball team at Washington University in St. Louis. An architecture major and business of sports minor, however, her true passions lie more within creative media and the outdoors. Aside from bathing Rusti and serving as comedic relief for the trip, Alex manages on-the-road content for social media and documentary purposes.

Find Alex on Instagram @alex.rubin and @alexjrubinphotography.

Emily Talkow: Emily grew up in North Caldwell, New Jersey, and is currently a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying Environmental Analysis, Global Health, and the Business of Social Impact. In addition to her studies at school, Emily is a member of the Varsity softball team (go bears!) and is always up for an adventure to go find dessert. She got involved with Stroke Across America through her Grandfather, Joe Golden, who has ridden his bike across the country twice before having a stroke. Her internship role, among other responsibilities, is helping to coordinate events, and of course, providing endless love for Rusti.

Find Emily on Instagram @emilytalkow.

Rusti: Debra and Steve’s Goldendoodle puppy. Fantastic pet already and training to be a service dog. She will ride in her “Tail Wagon” behind us or in the SAG wagon as she chooses – but always the SAG on big climbing days.

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