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Meet the 2013 ING New York City Marathon
Stroke Challenge Team!

November 3, 2013

Photo of Timaothy Birnbaum

Timothy Birnbaum

Tim survived two strokes when he was 17 years old. Because supporting the stroke community is deeply important and personal to him, Tim is proud to be running his first-ever marathon with the National Stroke Association Stroke Challenge team. As a native New Yorker, it has been a lifelong goal of Tim's to run the ING New York City Marathon across the city he calls home. Moreover, Tim is committed to running in support of stroke awareness.

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Carole Boletti

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Shanamai Cover

Shanamai was a member of the 2011 ING NYC Marathon Stroke Challenge team, making her a returning team member in 2013. Her dedication to the fight against stroke is in honor of her Mom. She shares, “I want to continue supporting the good work of this organization on behalf of those, like my Mom, that continue to live with stroke.” Welcome back, Shanamai!

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 Photo of Neil Creech

Neal Creech

Neal has joined the team to support his friend and fellow Stroke Challenge team member, Gary, whose dad had a stroke. Neal lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife and two children. He enjoys spending time going to the lake, playing golf and watching Georgia football games. Neal is proud to challenge himself and stroke by running the ING New York City Marathon.

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Photo of Amanda Dahlgren

Amanda Dahlgren

Amanda is a registered nurse and works in the stroke unit at her hospital. Ironically after she started working as a stroke unit nurse, her husband had a severe subarachnoid hemorrhage. Ten days later, while recovering in the hospital, he had an ischemic stroke while Amanda was at his side. He made an amazing recovery, walked out of the hospital 15 days after his hemorrhage with minimal weakness, and was back to full strength in two months. Amanda says, “Words can't express the highs and lows of this event and I will carry it with me forever.” She has always wanted to run the New York City marathon and is excited to run for stroke.

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Photo of Michael Darling

Michael Darling

Michael was misdiagnosed with a brain aneurism in 2007, which lead to his interest in stroke. Michael says, “After research, I decided to get fit again and began running. Two marathons later, I am running again this year for stroke. I joined the [National Stroke Association] Board of Directors and am helping to bring awareness of stroke to people in the USA.”

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Photo of Kathy Donley

Kathy Donley

While Kathy has not experienced stroke in her personal life, she sees the consequences of stroke on a daily basis as a nurse and stroke program coordinator in Southern New Jersey. She is very active in spreading awareness about stroke in her community—at baseball games, community health fairs and an annual stroke alert day. Kathy says, “I strongly believe in community education as a means to improving health and wellness. I am always looking for new ways to raise stroke awareness and running 26.2 miles is a great way to do it!” Kathy is a returning member of the Stroke Challenge team, having run the ING New York City Marathon in 2009. She is looking forward to the opportunity to raise awareness and funds to benefit National Stroke Association.

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Natalie Grybiene

Natalie is a self-proclaimed “runner.” However, since become a stroke nurse at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in June, she has become inspired to run in honor of the survivors and the caregivers that she has met. Natalie shares, “I love how these people are 'survivors' never 'victims'. I am awed and inspired every day to do all I can to promote stroke awareness in my community.”

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Jean Charles (JC) Guinot

Jean Charles’ grandmother had a stroke and he recognizes the importance of raising stroke awareness. He says, “Supporting a cause dear to my heart by raising money despite the pain and challenges of running 42.2 km is an homage to the cause and the numerous lives it has impacted.”

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Michael Jung

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Georges Karam

Georges joined the ING New York City Marathon Stroke Challenge team with friends Patrick, Jean-Charles and Carole in honor of Patrick’s mother. Georges is running to continue to provide hope for stroke survivors. “I would like to raise awareness amongst my friends and family and help as much as possible,” Georges tells us of why he joined the Stroke Challenge team this year.

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Photo of Mike Linskey

Mike Linskey

Mike is running the ING New York City Marathon with his fiancé, fellow Stroke Challenge team member, Kathleen Oroho. They are running in honor of Kathleen’s grandmother, who passed away five years ago from complications of a major stroke. “I am looking forward to supporting [Kathleen] throughout her training and fundraising efforts,” Mike shares. This will be Mike’s third marathon and he looks forward to sharing it with the people of New York, as it has been a difficult year in the endurance community.

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Diana Lohrer

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Patrick Marx

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Gary McNorrill

In August of 2012, Gary’s father had an accident that caused brain hemorrhaging and a large blood clot. Even after a major surgery, his brain injuries severely impaired his physical abilities. It's been a difficult year seeing his Dad in this condition. When asked why he joined the Stroke Challenge team, Gary explained, “Having seen a difficult brain injury recovery first hand, I was inspired to raise money in honor of Dad and to support stroke and stroke recovery research. I often feel helpless in Dad's recovery but running and raising money in Dad's honor is something I can easily do.”

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Tony Obey

Tony’s father is a stroke survivor and an active marathoner, having run 42 marathons across the country. On February 18, 2012 her father had a stroke that paralyzed him on the right side of his body. Refusing to allow this to define him, he signed up for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon – just nine months later with the insistence from his doctors that he would not likely be ready. Unfortunately, due to the cancellation fo the race, he didn’t get to run. But this year, he’s back, and Tony is proud to be running by his side as a member of the 2013 ING NYC Marathon Stroke Challenge team.

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Photo of Nancy Olisma 

Nancy Olisma

Nancy Olisma is a 24-year-old Brooklyn native. While she is a former Division III athlete, the 2013 ING New York City Marathon will be her first marathon. Nancy is running in honor of her father, Jacques Olisma. Jacques suffered two strokes last April and is a survivor.

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Photo of Kathleen Oroho

Kathleen Oroho

Kathleen is thrilled to have the opportunity to run in support of an organization that works daily to raise awareness about a very serious health issue. Five years ago, Kathleen’s grandmother passed away due to complications of a massive stroke. Kathleen shares, “she was a truly wonderful woman and I am so happy that I have the opportunity to honor her memory through this race.” This will not be Kathleen’s first marathon; however, she feels that this will be her most memorable marathon experience!

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Photo of Valerie and David Prowdrell

David and Valerie Powdrell

Davie and Valerie are running the ING New York City Marathon together. In 2004, David survived a stroke at the age of 49. While his recovery has been slow, he can slowly run again. One year after David’s stroke, Valerie, his wife, ran the Chicago Marathon. David says, “She always inspired me to push hard during my recovery. When the therapists would ask me to do 10 push-ups, I'd always give them 11.” David ran his first marathon two years after his stroke. By joining the Stroke Challenge team, David and Valerie hope to raise funds to help prevent others from having a stroke or help those who have had a stroke get the best possible recovery.

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Stewart and Elizabeth Strawbridge

Steward and Elizabeth have joined the 2013 ING NYC Marathon Stroke Challenge team in honor of their friend and fellow Stroke Challenge team member, Patrick. They have found comfort in Patrick and his family through their own family tragedies. Now, they have joined the Stroke Challenge team to support stroke survivors and their recovery.

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Lise Sutherland

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Robert Toon

Robert has never run a marathon before, but is committed to the Stroke Challenge team in honor of his mother, Gayle, who passed from a stroke two years ago. When asked about his mother, Robert shares,“she was a wonderful mother, supporter, and friend to so many, fought a tough battle against a stroke.” Robert is proud to join the Stroke Challenge team this year to raise much needed awareness and funds to fight stroke.

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Tim van Biesen

As a member of National Stroke Association’s board of directors, Tim is running on behalf of the nation’s 7 million stroke survivors and their families. Through his participation, Tim hopes to support the mission of National Stroke Association—reducing the incidence and impact of stroke—and continue to focus on building programs that expand the role of National Stroke Association in the lives of stroke survivors and their families.

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Catherine Wilson

Catherine has joined the ING NYC Marathon Stroke Challenge team to help raise awareness and some much needed funds to fight stroke. She is very thankful for the support of her friends and family as she takes on this significant challenge. 

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ING New York Marathon

For additional information please contact us at events@stroke.org or call 1-800-STROKES (787-6537) or visit www.stroke.org/nymarathon.

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