Strides for Stroke unites survivors, families

- At age 36,  Jen Kirchen didn't fit the usual profile for a stroke victim.

“I had a stroke at a volleyball tournament for my oldest daughter,” Kirchen said. 

Same goes for triathlete Brian Gulbrandson, who suffered a stroke while driving in slow moving traffic.

“My arm that I thought was on the arm rest was actually draped lifeless on my side,” Gulbrandson said. “Now I’m no medical expert but I figure if you misplace your right arm you’ve got problems.”

Perhaps the most alarming proof that strokes can happen at any age is four-year-old Dorian Nelson. His stoke hit in utero, followed by seizures and plenty of physical therapy once he was born.

“It’s supposed to be the greatest thing in your life having a child, “ says Dorian’s dad Tent Nelson. “ He spent the first 14 days of his life in the nicu it’s been a journey ever since.”

Strides for Stroke,  organized by the Minnesota Stroke Association, brings together survivors and families. Over 97,000 Minnesotans live with the life-altering effects of strokes. Nationally every four seconds someone has a stroke and every four minutes someone dies. While strokes are more prevalent and getting diagnosed more often,  research and medicine has also improved.

“It’s an epidemic in essence,” Brad Donaldson of the Minnesota Stoke Association said. “That’s an overused word, but it is.”

Funds raised during the walk Saturday at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton help provide services for stroke victims across the state from rehabilitation,  to housing and jobs. For some at times it maybe a slow moving one mile walk, but putting one foot in front of the other is what it's all about.

“People are surviving and there are qualities of life to be had after a stroke,” Donalson said.

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