PRESS ROOM

May 19 – August 26, 2022

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 one 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 4,500 miles, Steve and Debra were joined by two others to round out the SAAM riding team of survivors: Whitney Hardy and Michael Obel-Omia. Together this team journeyed across the US, stopping in 15 cities along the way to participate in community events. Learn more at www.strokeacrossamerica.org.

CONTACT TO SCHEDULE AN INTERVIEW

Zoom Requests/Ride Questions
Flannery O’Neil
Executive Director
Cell: 602-317-8095
flannery@strokeonward.org

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Tweet: This summer, a team of cyclists pedaled their way across America, spreading awareness about stroke and the emotional recovery that follows.  https://strokeacrosseamerica.org/  #strokeonward #bike4stroke #StrokeAcrossAmerica

Facebook/Newsletter: This summer, a team of cyclists pedaled their way across America, spreading awareness about stroke and the emotional recovery that follows. Along the way, they’ve been sharing their personal stroke and brain injury stories and their experience living with aphasia, a condition that can result from stroke. The team’s goal is to educate people about the warning signs of stroke, BE FAST, and the need to fully support the emotional journey in recovery from traumas like stroke. To learn more about the team’s journey please visit their website OR check out their updates on Instagram @strokeonward.

Hashtags: #strokeonward #bike4stroke #StrokeAcrossAmerica

MEDIA COVERAGE HIGHLIGHTS

PRESS RELEASES

August 15, 2022

Only 500 Miles Remain in 4,300 Cycling Journey to Raise Awareness for Stroke & Aphasia

                                                                          

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA (August 15, 2022) – What do two educators, a non-profit executive, and a former varsity soccer college athlete have in common? Brain Injury. They join the more than 5.3 million people living in the United States who are living with brain injuries that have left them with disabilities. 

Twelve weeks ago, this group launched their bikes from the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, Oregon intent on raising much-needed awareness about stroke, aphasia, brain injury, and the emotional recovery that follows. Known as Stroke Across America, this 4,300 mile cycling effort has also been a personal, emotional journey of recovery, resilience, and rebuilding for each of the riders. The group just held its 12th community event in Buffalo, NY and has less than 500 miles to go to complete their journey.

Fulfilling a LifeLong Dream and Pedaling for a Purpose

For Steve Zuckerman, a non-profit executive and father of three adult children with wife Debra Meyerson, cycling has been a lifelong way to stay active, support his mental health, and have fun with family and friends. Cycling across the country has been on his “bucket list” for decades. When Debra, a Stanford University professor, experienced a severe stroke in 2010, it changed their lives forever. But Meyerson and Zuckerman have refused to let the disabilities that Debra has from her stroke, including aphasia, stop them from living life to the fullest. 

Aphasia forced Meyerson from her job at Stanford, but with help from Steve, her son Danny, and others, wrote Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke. The couple also co-founded the nonprofit Stroke Onward to ensure stroke survivors and their supporters have the resources needed to rebuild identities and rewarding lives

Steve and Debra could have easily organized a cycling trip to enjoy a cross-country journey by themselves. But knowing how powerful it is to connect with others and the importance of raising awareness about stroke and aphasia, they were inspired to think much bigger. “We knew that sharing our story and meeting others to learn about their experiences had the potential to spark needed change in the healthcare system to better meet the needs of stroke and brain injury survivors everywhere,” said Zuckerman and Meyerson. And so Stroke Across America was born.

Debra and Steve lead this journey, a wife and husband team riding a tandem across the country. They are joined by two other survivors – Michael Obel-Omia and Whitney Hardy. 

Michael Obel-Omia, an educator and cyclist, suffered a stroke in 2016. Like Debra, he lives with ongoing aphasia. In addition to his identity as a cyclist, literature and the English language have continued to leave a lasting imprint on Michael’s life. After his stroke, he explains “I couldn’t say much, so I started writing poetry.” After a few of his poems were published, he decided to create a compilation of them. This birthed Finding My Words: Aphasia Poetry, his published book of poetry. Stroke Across America has proved to be both rewarding and challenging for Michael and he lives the motto “improving, always improving.”

Whitney Hardy, was hit by a car in 2014 in Boston, MA, while running after work and suffered life-threatening traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Now just about a decade shy of her injury, Whitney continues work to lessen cognitive disabilities while continuing to explore her identity, the impacts of her injury, and the growth from living with a TBI. The struggle between independence and dependence is something that Whitney has faced post-accident and was part of her motivation for joining this journey. Whitney’s advice for others is “Be patient because things aren’t going to change quickly and you have to accept that the life you had is now different and you have to adjust to a new normal.” 

 

Carrying Hope Across The Country

Cycling across the US can be done in as little as 3,000 miles, but this journey was designed into a 4,300 mile route to enjoy better riding routes and, importantly, visit cities across the country to host or participate in events designed to connect and celebrate stories of hope and resilience. “What a joy it has been to spend the summer meeting new people, many stroke survivors and those who support them, especially after two long, isolating years of living in the Covid pandemic” said Meyerson. 

Community events remain for Albany, NY (August 19th) and Northampton, MA (August 24th) with a final celebration hosted by Boston University’s Sargent College on August 27th in Boston. Events thus far have brought together more than a thousand people: survivors, loved ones, healthcare providers, cyclists, and the general public. This has allowed the team to meet people like Brooke in Missoula who lives with aphasia after her stroke, Michael in Detroit who was challenged with learning to walk again, and Mat in Chicago who uses his iPad for communication support, an important tool for him to lead a full, happy life. 

Stroke Across America invites everyone to Join the Journey in person or online by following daily video stories on Instagram, attending an event, or riding virtually with the team. For more information, please visit strokeacrosseamerica.org.  

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July 25, 2022

Recovering From Stroke, Ex-Stanford Professor is Halfway Across America, Riding To Raise Awareness for Stroke and Aphasia

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA (July 25, 2022)- For the past eight weeks, a team of cyclists have been pedaling their way across America, spreading awareness about stroke and the emotional recovery that follows. The Stroke Across America team began their 4,300-mile journey on May 19, and they’re now more than halfway to their goal. Along the way, they’ve been sharing their personal stroke and brain injury stories and their experience living with aphasia, a condition that can result from stroke. 

In 2010, Debra was a healthy, fit mother of three, working as a professor at Stanford University, when she suffered a severe stroke that changed her life forever. The once-active 53-year-old was left unable to work, speak, or be physically active in the ways she once was. However, Meyerson has refused to let her disabilities stop her from living her life to the fullest. She and her husband have embarked on a 4,300-mile cycling journey across the United States to raise awareness of the complex challenges of recovering from a stroke. Despite her many hurdles, Meyerson remains an inspirational example of resilience in the face of adversity.

The ride began in Astoria, OR, and will end in Boston, MA on August 27. There are 15 community events completed or planned. They’ve organized events at community centers, music halls, and universities to share their personal stories and help others understand what it’s like to live with stroke. “I want people to know they’re not alone,” Meyerson said. “Rebuilding a rewarding life is possible but takes deliberate effort and lots of support.”

Over 800,000 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. Yet there remains a gap in the stroke system of care when it comes to enhancing and supporting survivors’ emotional health and the process of rebuilding identities and rewarding lives. 

Debra Meyerson and Steven Zuckerman lead this journey, a wife and husband team riding a tandem across the country. They are joined by two other survivors – Michael Obel-Omia and Whitney Hardy. 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, Finding My Words: Aphasia Poetry). Whitney Hardy– was hit by a car in Boston, MA, while running after work 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. 

Stroke Across America invites everyone to Join the Journey in person or online by following daily video stories on Instagram, attending an event, or riding virtually with the team. For more information, please visit strokeacrosseamerica.org. 

Experiencing a stroke can be devastating for the individual and their loved ones. If you or someone you know has been affected by stroke, Stroke Across America invites you to join them on the journey to rebuild. The organization provides daily video stories on Instagram documenting the progress of stroke survivors, as well as opportunities to attend events or ride virtually with the team. By sharing these stories, Stroke Across America hopes to inspire other stroke survivors and remind them that they are not alone. For more information, please visit strokeacrosseamerica.org.

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May 19, 2022

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

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA (May 19, 2022)- Stroke Across America took off on May 19 for a 4,300-mile bicycle 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 15 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 or in person. In addition, enjoy daily video updates on social media. For more information, please visit strokeacrosseamerica.org.

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