Cross-Country Bike Journey to Raise Awareness About Stroke and Aphasia Launches in Astoria

MISSOULA, MONTANA (May 4, 2022)- Stroke Across America is taking off on May 19 for a 4,300-mile journey that will last over 100 days to spread awareness about stroke, aphasia, and the emotional recovery after suffering traumas like stroke.

About 790,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke each year, resulting in the number one cause of adult-onset disability. Survivors can spend years working to improve their post-stroke physical capabilities. Still, there remains a gap in the stroke system of care when it comes to improving and supporting survivors emotional health and the process of rebuilding identities and rewarding lives. The purpose of this ride is to expose this gap and build awareness about aphasia and the symptoms of stroke.

The ride will begin from Astoria, OR, on May 19 and end in Boston, MA. There will be 16 community events across the country, with a final celebration in Boston on August 26. Some events will feature musical acts – the Soul Benders in Bend, OR, and Caroline Keys in Missoula, MT – and all will create the chance for attendees to connect, celebrate, and learn about stroke, aphasia, and the emotional journey in recovery. In addition, local organizations will share information about their work, and survivors and carepartners will share stories of the complex recovery process and the need for more support for the emotional journey in recovery. 

Debra Meyerson and Steven Zuckerman lead this journey, a wife and husband team riding a tandem across the country. In 2010, Debra was a healthy, fit mother of three, working as a professor at Stanford University, when she suffered a severe stroke. After three years of nearly full-time therapy, she was still dealing with ongoing communication troubles due to aphasia and could not return to her job as a professor, leaving Debra devastated.  

Debra drew on her academic background and decided to write a book to share her story and those of 25 other survivors in hopes of letting others know that they’re not alone. The award-winning book Identity Theft: Rebuilding Ourselves After Stroke was released in 2019, at which time Steve and Debra created Stroke Onward, a nonprofit committed to ensuring stroke survivors and their supporters have the resources needed to rebuild identities and rewarding lives. Now, they’re taking their outreach a step further in a cross-country cycling trip making 79 stops along the way.

They will be joined on the journey by three other survivors – Joe Golden, Michael Obel-Omia, and Whitney Hardy. Joe suffered a massive stroke in 2016 and has used cycling as a critical part of his recovery. Michael Obel-Omia, an educator, suffered a stroke in 2016. Like Debra, he suffers from ongoing aphasia and has used poetry to regain communication (and published a book, Aphasia Poetry). Whitney Hardy, 34, a close family friend, was hit by a car while jogging and suffered life-threatening traumatic brain injuries. Each participant has a unique story about how their brain injury has created dramatic life changes and how they’re not letting it define them. Steve and Debra’s Goldendoodle Rusti will also join them – riding in her “Tail Wagon” behind them or the support vehicle – ready with a cuddle for anyone who needs it.

Stroke Across America invites everyone to JOIN THE JOURNEY and engage with this effort. Participants can join virtually (link to the web page) or in person (link to the web page). In addition, enjoy daily video updates on social media. For more information, please visit


Stroke Across America is not just a bike ride – it is a journey led by stroke survivor Debra Meyerson and her husband, Steve Zuckerman, to raise awareness about stroke, aphasia, and the need to fully support the emotional journey in recovery from traumas like stroke. Around 795,000 people in the United States have strokes per year – that’s every 40 seconds. About 33% of people who have strokes usually suffer from some level of aphasia which affects communication, not intellect. Across the course of 100 days and 4,300 miles, Steve and Debra will be joined by three others to round out the SAAM riding team of survivors: Joe Golden, Whitney Hardy, and Michael Obel-Omia. Together this team will journey across the US, stopping in 16 cities along the way to participate in community events. Donations to Stroke Onward for Stroke Across America will help us to increase our mission message outreach so that we can educate as many people as possible about stroke, aphasia, and emotional recovery. Learn more, including the many ways that you can get involved, at


Flannery O’Neil, Executive Director
(602)317-8095 mobile


Download web-ready photos, bike route map, video highlights, stroke awareness social images, and logos.

Twitter: @strokeonward | Facebook: @strokeonward | TikTok: @strokeonward | Instagram: @strokeonward


Online version:

Tweet: Cyclists, Stroke Survivors, and Allies: catch 16 unique Stroke Across America events this summer across the US  #strokeonward #bike4stroke #StrokeAcrossAmerica

Facebook/Newsletter: Stroke Across America is looking for allies to ride alongside stroke and other TBI survivors on a 4,300 mile bike journey! This 100 day adventure will begin in Oregon and wrap up in Boston, with pre-launch events on May 18th in Astoria, OR. Stroke Onward is collaborating with local businesses and venues in the area to share each individual’s stories about rebuilding their image post-stroke and how they’re not letting this disease define them. Find out what aphasia is and isn’t, as well as celebrities who are also living with this disease such as the most recent case of Bruce Willis. If you can’t be physically there, there is a virtual option as well! For more information about how to become involved, please visit:

Hashtags: #strokeonward #bike4stroke #StrokeAcrossAmerica