ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — What do two educators, a non-profit executive, and a former 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, the group launched their bikes from the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, Oregon, intent on raising awareness about stroke, aphasia, brain injury, and the emotional recovery that follows. Known as “Stroke Across America,” the 4,300-mile cycling effort has also been a personal journey of recovery for each of the riders. The group just held its 12th community event in Buffalo, and has less than 500 miles to go to complete their journey.
Debra Meyerson and Steven Zuckerman are a husband-and-wife team riding tandem across the country on the bike ride. On Friday, Aug. 19, they’ll make a stop and celebrate with local stroke survivors at Fort Orange Brewing on North Pearl Street. The public is invited to the celebration from 6 to 8 p.m.
Meyerson was a healthy, working mother of three when she had a major stroke in 2010. She was working as a professor at Stanford University when the medical emergency changed her life forever. At just 53, Meyerson was unable to work, speak, or be physically active in ways she once was.
Though she still struggles with aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, Meyerson refuses to let her disabilities stop her from living life to the fullest. She and her husband are inspiring thousands on their cross-country journey, as they raise awareness about the complex challenges of recovering from a stroke.
Meyerson and Zuckerman are joined by two other survivors, Michael Obel-Omia and Whitney Hardy. Obel-Omia is an educator who suffered from a stroke in 2016. He also experiences aphasia and uses poetry as a way to communicate. He’s even published a book, called “Finding My Words: Aphasia Poetry.”
Also on the trip is Whitney Hardy, who was hit by a car in Boston while running after work and suffered life-threatening brain injuries. All four plan to complete their bike journey when they ride into Boston on Aug. 26.
According to the Stroke Across America website, over 800,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke each year, making it the number one cause of adult-onset disability. Survivors can spend years working to improve their post-stroke physical capabilities.
Yet there are gaps in the stroke system of care when it comes to enhancing and supporting survivors’ emotional health and the process of rebuilding identities. 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 them.