Stroke Across America (SAAM)


Debra, a stroke survivor with aphasia, and Steve, her husband and carepartner, will be riding their tandem bicycle across the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Their 9 month old Goldendoodle Rusti will be tagging along — in a trailer behind the bike or in the SAG van. Also joining them is Whitney Hardy, 34, survivor of a Traumatic Brain Injury six years ago that left her with cognitive disabilities she continues to battle, on what she hopes is a path to regaining full independence. More on the riders below.

Want to join us for a bit?  Learn about several different ways you can join the ride

Stroke Onward is using its founders’ trip to raise awareness about stroke, aphasia and the need for more emotional support during recovery from brain traumas like stroke and TBI. 

  • 790,000 Americans have a stroke each year — do you know how to spot one?
  • Almost 8 million stroke survivors are currently living in the U.S. 
  • Stroke is the number one cause of adult onset disability in the U.S.
  • One-third of all stroke survivors suffer from aphasia, a disability that affects communication, NOT intellect.
  • Most of the focus in stroke recovery is currently put on rehabilitation. While regaining lost capabilities is certainly a critical aspect of recovery, more focus is needed to support the equally important emotional journey to rebuild identities and rewarding lives in the face of whatever disabilities remain.

Dates (subject to change): 

  • May 7-8, 2022 — Pre-departure events in San Francisco Bay Area
  • May 14, 2022 — Ride launch in Astoria, Oregon
  • August 21, 2022 — Ride finale in Boston, MA

The route:

  • We will ride east through Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, then southeast through Wyoming (Yellowstone) and Colorado (to Boulder/Denver).Next, mostly east to Kansas City and St. Louis, then northeast to Chicago.  Finally, due east to Detroit, through Canada to Buffalo, across NY state to Albany and across Massachusetts to Boston. All still subject to modification.   
  • Approximately 4,300 miles and 150,000 feet of climbing in about 100 days (~80 riding), averaging about 55 miles/day.
  • More on the route and daily schedule below


  • 15-20 events along the route – to raise awareness for the critical issues discussed above, and to highlight local organizations pursuing these and comparable goals. See events section below. 
  • We will be bringing together stroke and TBI organizations, disability and adaptive sports groups, cyclists and civic organizations — any and all who will help create awareness for these important issues.  If that describes you/your organization, become a Stroke Across America Ally

We need your help:

  • Sponsors: Lots of great exposure for your company, and you will help us fund the events and publicity efforts that will bring awareness to these critical issues
  • Allies: Are you a nonprofit supporting stroke survivors or trauma recovery of any kind, advocating for whole person healthcare, providing services or advocacy for people with disabilities, and an organization of any kind whose mission is consistent with ours? Learn more and join us.
  • Donate: Any amount, large or small, will help us build awareness and support the critical programs of Stroke Onward.

Please keep reading to learn more about the riders; joining the ride; the route and riding plan; events; sponsorship opportunities; ally involvement; volunteering to help; and supporting with a donation.

The Riders

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.

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 private equity and then 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.

Rusti: Our Goldendoodle puppy. Fantastic pet already and training to be a service dog. She has agreed to ride in the SAG wagon on big climbing days to lighten our load!

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). Seven years later she still has memory and cognitive challenges that keep her from returning to jobs like she had before and living independently. 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.

Want to join us for the whole ride, a day, or a week or more? Learn about the different ways you can join the ride.

Join the Ride

This is not a large scale, long distance, organized ride.  The full ride will be for a small number of us — advocates committed to the mission of Stroke Onward.  It will be professionally supported, and accompanied by a “Support and Gear” (SAG) vehicle.  Riders and SAG driver will generally be camping.  If you are an experienced long-distance rider, and want to support this effort as part of the core team (from coast to coast) please tell us more about your interest.   

Other ways to ride with us:

  1. Join an organized Stroke Across America “Segment Tour”: We are currently working with BIKEternity, a boutique bike tour company based in Missoula, MT, to organize four one-week trips that will follow our route. These will be fully supported “inn to inn” trips, and participants will register with BIKEternity directly. These trips are currently in development — details and pricing will be available shortly.  There will be minimum and maximum participation numbers for them to work.  Current plans for Segment Tours include: 
      1. May 12-May 20 (approximately): Astoria, OR to Touche, WA. Join the first week of the journey. Mostly along the northern (Washington) side of the Hood River. This will be a fully supported CAMPING tour (no hotels on this side of the river.) SAG transfer back to Portland, OR on 5/20.
      2. June 2-10 (approximately): Bozeman, MT to Flag Ranch, WY. Five days riding w/ SAAM into Jackson, rest day in Jackson, then 7th day starting with SAAM then north to Headwaters and Flagg Ranch for last night. Riders can leave from Jackson, skipping last day, or transfer to Bozeman/Yellowstone on Friday, June 10th from Flag Ranch, with sightseeing along the beautiful 5 hour drive through Yellowstone to Bozeman.
      3. July 6-14 (approximately): Kansas City to St. Louis, MO.  Mostly along the KATY Trail, a 240 mile bike trail largely along the northern bank of the Missouri River, in the right-of-way of the former Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. Approximately 325 miles over 6 days riding (+1 day of rest.)
      4. August 8-14 (approximately): Buffalo to Little Falls, NY (shuttle to Schenectady available for departures). Mostly along the Erie Canalway Trail, the west-east spine of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, a bike/hike trailway. Approximately 275 miles over 5 days of riding (with rest day before then next Tour if you do both).
      5. The final leg — August 14-21 (approximately): LIttle Falls, NY (shuttle from Schenectady available for arrivals) to Boston, MA.  This will continue on the Erie Canalway to Albany, then follow the country roads of western Massachusetts to Boston. Approximately 300 miles over 6 days of riding (+1 day of rest.) This segment can be combined with the prior segment to create a two-week trip. 

These trips will be scheduled to ride along with Stroke Across America, but they will be supported separately and stay in hotels near the SAAM camping locations. Due to possible problems with weather, equipment, injury or other issues, we can’t guarantee routes and timing will remain in sync, but the goal is that they will.   

  1. Organize yourself or a group: We will be publishing our daily plans, including changes along the way. We would love to have self-organized riders (i.e., you make all your own plans and ride w/o our support) join us for portions along the way.  Your trip is your trip, ours is ours, but if things go according to plan, we’ll mostly be travelling together. 
  2. Ride into town: We will be publishing and updating our ride and event schedules — if you want to meet us at the beginning of a day and just ride with us to the end, please do.  You’re on your own, and the more the merrier.  

If you’d like more information when available let us know here.

Route and Riding Plan

The route is being developed by Arlen Hall, an experienced cycling guide and trip planner who in the past has managed the bicycle touring programs at both Adventure Cycling and REI

The route is optimized for riding quality and safety, and event planning for mission impact. We’ll use sections of many well-tested, established bike routes, including many developed by Adventure Cycling Association — Lewis and Clark; TransAM; Bicycle Route 66; Lake Erie Connector; and Underground Railroad Detroit Connector. Also used are US Bike Route System (USBRS) routes, the crowd-source TransAm Eastern Express, NY State Bike Route 5, and in a few areas local routing based on past riding experience.  

See more route details here (all still subject to change):

The trip will be about 4,300 miles.  Adjusting for accommodation locations, event planning, etc., we planned to ride about 55 miles/day — longer on flat/downhill days, shorter on those with more climbing.  We hope to ride from roughly 9 am to 3-4 pm, with several brief stops along the way.  We will generally take a rest day about every fifth day — as much as possible on event days.

Once arranged, events will be the primary driver of the schedule.  If weather, equipment failures, injuries or other issues create delays, we will “SAG” our way along the route as necessary to make the next event.  We hope to ride every mile, but one thing you learn in stroke recovery — adaptation is a must! Raising awareness, not riding every mile, is the priority for this trip.

Riders will be supported by the SAG vehicle (a small camper) towing a trailer for gear.  The SAG will be driven by several different experienced cycle guides who will support the riders.  The SAG will be command central for all, and sleeping quarters for Debra and Steve.  Others will be sleeping in tents. Some hotels will be used along the way. 

Publicity Events

This is why the trip exists.  To raise awareness through events — the people who attend them and the publicity they can create.  We hope to organize events in cities and towns in collaboration with Stroke Onward supporters and allies in our work, as well as other aligned organizations we meet as we begin our planning.  

Based on our current route, we are working to develop events in:

  • Astoria and/or Portland, OR
  • Missoula and Bozeman, MT
  • Kansas City and St. Louis, MO
  • Chicago, IL
  • Ann Arbor and Detroit, MI
  • Buffalo (and others TBD), NY
  • Western (TBD) and Boston, MA

Locations may be changed or added based on local partner arrangements.  We will share event details as they are available.  

If you’re interested in collaborating with us on an event, please [let us know here]


Debra Meyerson and Steve Zuckerman are underwriting the cost of designing this trip and providing vehicle/guide support for the SAAM riding team, with other riders covering their personal costs.   

Sponsorships and other funds raised will support Stroke Onward’s work to organize events and develop publicity to raise awareness through the SAAM ride. Any money raised in excess of that need will support other programmatic work of Stroke Onward.  

Sponsors for Stroke Across America will contribute money and/or products and services that are necessary to successfully deliver on the goals of the ride. We will create publicity packages and other sponsor benefits based on each sponsor’s preferences, reflective of their level of support.

Sponsor benefits can include: 

  • Logo/product exposure (website, social media, email comms, press releases/publicity pieces, vehicle wraps, cycling jersey, other clothing, live event displays, virtual event acknowledgements, and more)
  • Access to photos and video footage. We expect to have a professional photographer and videographer for at least portions of the ride, possibly all, plus shooting by us, our SAG support team, and others on the ride.  For larger sponsors, we can explore directed photo/video shoots.
  • Other opportunities as agreed

We are designing sponsor levels at $100K, 50K, 25K, 10K, 5K, and 2.5K

Current sponsor include:

If you are interested in exploring a sponsorship for Stroke Across America, please let us know here.


At Stroke Onward, our approach to creating impact revolves around collaboration.  So does this ride.  We are seeking other nonprofit stroke support organizations, organizations supporting TBI and trauma recovery of any kind, advocates for whole person healthcare, services and advocacy for people with disabilities, and any other organizations whose mission is consistent with ours and who would like to join us in raising awareness for these critical issues.  

What you give: assistance in spreading the word and publicizing Stroke Across America. If you’re on our route, help organize an event. Amplify our en route messaging through social media and otherwise. Allies are not expected to provide direct financial support.

What you get: recognition for your help on our website, emails, social media and other venues as appropriate.  A short profile of your organization and its work in “Ally Alley” — a section to be created on our website.  When appropriate, involvement in and publicity at local events. Recognition in national media efforts appropriate to your level of engagement.  

Current Stroke Across America Allies include:

If you are interested in being a Stroke Across America Ally, please tell us more.

Want to Help?

Stroke Across America is a huge undertaking for a small organization. We’re doing it because we think it can have incredible impact (and OK, hopefully it will be fun too).  But we could use all the help we can get.  We are specifically looking for help with:

  • Graphic design (starting with a logo for the ride!)
  • Event organizing/planning
  • Sponsor recruitment
  • Publicity — traditional and/or social media
  • Anything else you think might help

If you are a person or organization with any of these skills and interests, willing to donate your time, please tell us more.